Letter: `Lads' of the TUC win fair deals for women at work

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The Independent Online
Sir: Diane Coyle, in an otherwise interesting discussion of the labour market ("Listen lads - women's work counts too", 20 March), misrepresents a new TUC report to suggest that the TUC is interested only in full-time male workers.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. The TUC has been campaigning in the courts, in Parliament, in Brussels and in the media to improve the lot of part-time workers. Thanks to union campaigning part-timers can no longer be excluded from company pension schemes and the Government was forced to reduce the qualifying period for part-timers to gain protection against unfair dismissal to the same two-year period as for full-timers. TUC research then showed that this had no adverse effect on part-time jobs, contrary to the warnings of ministers.

Our campaigning for a minimum wage, the Working Time Directive and the Social Chapter promise to bring real benefits to women part-timers, who are the lowest paid and least likely to have paid holidays.

Our report was spurred by claims that the UK is a rip-roaring success because it has more people in work than other countries. What we found was that this was due to there being fewer young people in full-time education than elsewhere, more people working when they are past retirement age and, yes, there being more part-time workers here than in most other EU countries. The UK is no better than others at creating the quality jobs that men and women need to give them the kind of income required to bring up families and save for retirement.

JOHN MONKS

General Secretary

Trades Union Congress

London WC1

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