5 May 2021

Being a union member gives support for all women in our PCS DWP Group

Bridget explains why she helped to organised an event for DWP women members and why she is planning more in the future  

As union reps we believe in consultation and representation. Opening up a forum for our members to discuss issues and share their experiences is exactly what we believe in within PCS so a virtual members’ meeting is part of our ‘ways of working’ under Covid restrictions.

Our group women’s advisory committee was tasked with running an event in March as part of Women’s History Month – we had such positive feedback, it was a natural decision to do it again. The women’s event in April was in response to recent events highlighting safety for women in our society – we wanted to show how being a union member gives support for all women in our PCS DWP Group.

We had 93 PCS members there from all round the country. It was heartening to have such strong engagement and again shows how digital meetings can have wider reach as they are not limited by geography. Our members heard from PCS rep Clare McInally, who spoke about the rise in domestic abuse under Covid and the importance of union support.

Clare noted the importance and strength women have in working together and how central the union is to that work. Group assistant secretary Angela Grant spoke about the issues women face in abusive relationships and the role PCS plays in negotiating policy improvements for women and campaigning for women’s rights. She emphasised that our reps are always on hand for any of our members and highlighted the PCS Domestic Abuse Guidance.

Our women attendees spoke openly about their views and experiences – we thank them so much for their excellent comments and participation. We thanked the men who attended and noted the importance of solid support from our allies.

Future events

We’re planning a series of ‘PCS Click and Connect’ events. Hopefully by badging the events in this way it will make it easier for our members to recognise the style of these events and attend a series of them. The events should always encourage more participation in PCS union – via courses or becoming a rep or advocate – so the more we have, the more we encourage our members to get more involved. We will follow up each event with information in the chat function for continued connection and support.

We ran another equality event two days after the women’s safety forum and had 162 attendees. This event was targeted at disabled members with concerns over returning to the office. Safety is such a big concern for us in DWP Group as we have seen jobcentres reopened too quickly, too early and not safely enough.

These concerns impact on all our members. Our next event will be hosted by the group black members’ advisory committee to address rising levels of racism and how we can work together as a union to best represent our members.

Women are critical to the development of our union as we represent the majority of our membership. But it is important that we recognise women are black, disabled, LGBT+ and intersectional. PCS DWP Group equality team recognises that by focusing on issues we can best support and listen to our membership.

These events can provide such a valuable forum for feedback from our members, especially when policies are changing so quickly because of Covid. The immediacy of communication is a huge feature of our lunchtime events – we can update our members directly, which is a powerful tool in our more socially distant times.

Let us know what your branch or group is planning, email editor@pcs.org.uk