Monday, 18 October 2010

UKIP gives political cover to bosses who discriminate against women

UKIP's most prominent politician has this morning joined the war of words against plans to give more protection and support to pregnant workers.
Nigel Farage MEP tweeted: "Cross party support amongst British MEPs on the plane to Stras that Pregnant Workers Directive is bad news. Can we stop it? Unlikely."
Last week - as reported exclusively on The Workers United - Farage's colleague Godfrey Bloom told a female trade union leader who wrote to him about the directive to "stick to giving advice on nappies and breastfeeding".
Bloom also told Michelle Stanistreet, deputy general secretary of the National Union of Journalists, that: "You clearly have no idea how businesses work or recruitment policy in the private sector."
On UKIP's website Bloom says: "Absurd legislation such as this closes the door on opportunities for young women and consigns them to a role as second class citizens, trapped at home by the stupidity of legislators.
"It will single-handedly turn back the clock to the 1920s by forcing employers to avoid exposure to the penalties by not hiring young women."
The UK charity Maternity Action supports the proposed amendments to the directive which it says: "Significantly improve the rights of pregnant women, new mothers, women who are breastfeeding, and their families."
Nigel Farage's tweet talks of "cross party" opposition to the directive. I've asked him which other parties' MEPs were on the plane. No reply so far.
UKIP MEPs insist they are not anti-women but no-one would have replied to a male trade union leader in the way Bloom wrote to Stanistreet.
He should resign his seat on the European parliament's women’s rights and gender equality committee. Or be removed if there is a procedure for that.
It's a shame discrimination against women is a civil rather than a criminal offence.
If it was the latter Bloom could have his collar felt by police interested in his expert knowledge of private sector recruitment policy.
He clearly knows of companies that discriminate against young women. He should be naming and shaming them, not giving them political cover.

1 comment:

  1. UKIP seem to be using the legislation as a means to spouting their typically bigoted views and while I find them as repulsive as ever it is the breadth of opposition to the plans that I have heard that frightens me.

    The British Chamber of Commerce has been particularly vocal, talking about the huge cost to British businesses, should fully paid maternity leave for 20 weeks be brought in. It’s a spurious argument: businesses don’t cover the cost of maternity pay themselves, it is the government who does, so the suggestion is presumably that the damage is done because women are off work?

    Taken to one conclusion, that’s an argument that isn’t too far off Farage’s and it makes little sense to me (and I run a small business). I can’t see how a company that discriminates and employs a horde of mini-Farages rather than women who *may* take maternity leave is healthier than one which offers genuine equality of opportunity.

    I also heard a Labour MEP on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour saying that she would be voting against the part of the legislation that deals with 20 weeks of full pay, because those on the minimum wage would lose out. It wasn’t clear that would be the case, but even if it were then additional local legislation could negate it (by insisting upon full pay or stator maternity, whichever is greater) so surely it is better to support a bill that greatly improves rights for pregnant women in the UK?

    The current maternity rights in the UK are worse than those in most of our EU counterparts and it is high time that changed, I just find it depressing that so many people are so set against progression.