Liz Snape explains why women are feeling the pinch from government's attempts to steal away their pensions
Liz Snape is Unison’s director of policy
As we expected, the run up to this week’s strike is being characterised by government accusations that those behind the action are bully boys and hardliners.
But as we have said repeatedly, this could not be any further from the truth. This is a strike that will be dominated by women participants.
A new poll of 1,800 women shows why they should be worried.
Carried out by YouGov, the poll found that there are nearly twice as many women who think the government is doing badly in addressing the concerns of women (46 per cent) compared to those who think they are doing well (24 per cent).
One in four women (26 per cent) who voted Conservative at the last election think that the government is doing a badly in addressing the concerns of women.
Nearly one in two women (47 per cent) who voted Liberal Democrat at the last election think that the government is doing a badly in addressing the concerns of women.
Of the issues that were included in a leaked No 10 memo of coalition policies that play badly with women, changes to public sector pensions and the pay freeze were identified by nearly a third of women in the poll as coalition policies that are impacting upon them or their families (30 per cent).
These issues come out ahead of changes to child tax credit (15 per cent), raising tuition fees (21 per cent), scrapping the EMA (13 per cent), and abolishing the child trust fund (14 per cent).
71 per cent of women agree with the statement that people like them are bearing the brunt of the government’s tax increases and spending cuts, that includes 65 per cent of women who voted Conservative in 2010 and 73 per cent who voted Lib Dem at the last election.
So, how do government ministers start reconnecting with women voters? For a start they need to look at the implications of the three per cent tax on public sector workers – on the incomes of struggling household budgets. They need to recognise that it is women who will be hit hardest and that the protections for the low paid do not stand up to close scrutiny.
And they need to think again about the pay cap announced in the autumn statement. This will hit household budgets, damage confidence and provide a further break on economic recovery.
Women want fairness – not childish name calling.
• Barber: Why are lollipop ladies paying to cancel the bankers’ bonus tax? – Brendan Barber, November 30th 2011
• Four myths about today’s strike: Busted. – Alex Hern, November 30th 2011
• Johnson (elected by 19% of voters) and Cameron (23%) lecture unions about democracy – Alex Hern, November 28th 2011
• Message to Cameron: Talk to us, not TV news – Sally Hunt, November 25th 2011
• Raab’s attacks on workers’ rights are – surprise – based on no evidence – Sarah Veale, November 16th 2011