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PLP Brief: Labour IN for women

This PLP Brief comes from the office of Kate Green MP. For more information contact Roxanne roxanne.mashari@parliament.uk or Sofia sofia_patel@labour.org.uk.



  • This briefing pack is intended to be used to make a case for women to vote to remain in the European Union.

  • Women are more likely to be swayed by arguments about the economic risks of their decision, for jobs, livelihoods and families.

  • Women are twice as likely to say that they are unsure how they’ll vote in the referendum (20-25%) as men (10-15%).

  • Labour IN for women National Campaign day – Saturday 28th May.

Top lines

  • The EU has been a powerful force for driving gender equality and empowering women.

  • Women aren’t convinced by the spin and male Tory posturing that has so far dominated the EU referendum debate. Women want to know the clear case for Europe and how it benefits them and their families.

  • Equality is one of the European Union's founding values - explicit in the Lisbon treaty, the charter of fundamental rights, and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. It has been hardwired into the institution from the beginning.

  • Our membership of the European Union guarantees all workers in the UK their rights to paid holidays, parental leave, equal treatment for part-timers, and much, much more. We have a lot to lose.

  • Women benefit directly from these achievements in many different ways every day and might not know that they are now at risk if we leave the European Union.

  • If we vote to leave the European Union in June the current Government could pick and choose which rights to water down or scrap altogether. Given their past record on women’s equality that is a frightening prospect. We can’t trust the Tories or UKIP to uphold and protect women’s rights.

  • Domestically and internationally, Labour is a party with a long history of promoting gender equality – from Harold Wilson’s Equal Pay Act in 1970 to Glenys Kinnock’s appointment as the first ever woman minister tackling violence against women and girls overseas to Harriet Harman’s Equality Act in 2010, we can be proud of the material difference we have made to the lives of women over many decades. But we can’t can grow complacent.

  • Women are safer in Europe; our rights are more secure in Europe; we are more prosperous in Europe; and our future, and that of our children and grandchildren, is stronger in Europe

  • That’s why we say women should vote to remain – and why we say that a Europe that’s good for women is good for everyone in our country.

Women’s voices in the EU campaign

On Tuesday 23 May 2016, Harriet Harman, Angela Eagle, Seema Malhotra and Kate Green set out the case that women are better off in the European Union. They warned that a lack of female voices in the debate to date risks key arguments going unheard.

If we left the European Union women would be worse off rights safeguarded by the EU would be at risk.

Last week the Tory Employment Minister, and Leave campaigner, Priti Patel let the cat out of the bag; saying that

if we could just halve the burdens of the EU social and employment legislation we could deliver a £4.3 billion boost to our economy and 60,000 new jobs.

Leading Labour women challenged Leave campaigners to spell out exactly which hard won rights and protections they would seek to remove from women if the UK were to leave the European Union.

Labour also warned about the potential impact of Brexit on women’s jobs, rights and protections:

  • On jobs, Labour analysis of the Treasury’s report on the immediate impact of a vote to leave shows that women’s unemployment could increase by up to 390,000.

  • That includes between 10,000 and 16,000 fewer women’s jobs in the manufacturing sector and between 8,000 and 13,000 fewer women’s jobs in financial services.

Many of the rights and protections enjoyed by British women are safeguarded by our membership of the European Union. New analysis by Labour shows that the experience of the UK’s key competitors in the OECD outside the EU means we cannot take for granted the progress, rights and protections we enjoy through our membership of the EU:

  • 􏰀The gender pay gap for women living in EU countries within the OECD is almost five percentage points lower than for women living in non-EU countries within the OECD.

  • 􏰀Women living in EU countries within the OECD are entitled to an average of 22.5 weeks maternity leave. In contrast, women living in non-EU countries within the OECD are entitled to just under 14 weeks.

  • When it comes to the total length of paid maternity and parental leave, parents living in OECD countries within the EU are on average entitled to more than double parents living in OECD countries outside the EU: 68 weeks as opposed to almost 32 weeks.

Women in the work place

Our membership of the EU has brought greater workplace protection for British women:

  • Legal right to equal pay. It is a founding principle of the EU and has been in the Treaties since 1957 (now art. 157 TFEU). In 1984 the UK government was forced to include equal pay for work of equal value in the Equal Pay Act, benefiting many women workers.

  • Guaranteed rights for part time and flexible workers. There are 6.2 million women working part-time in the UK. It doesn’t matter if you are full-time or part- time, temporary or permanent, in-house or agency, all workers get the same rights, including access to pensions.

  • Paid maternity leave and the right to return to work without loss of position or pay. Provides for a minimum maternity leave period for employees of 14 weeks and for a minimum payment during this leave. The maternity provisions in the UK (52 weeks) are more generous than the minimum requirements of this directive.

  • Protection from gender-based discrimination and harassment. The Equal Treatment Directive guarantees equal treatment of women and men in the labour market (including selection criteria). It requires member states to prohibit any discrimination -direct or indirect - on grounds of gender. This includes reference to family or marital status, pregnancy and maternity, harassment, and instructions to discriminate. It also protects workers who make a complaint relating to equal treatment from victimisation.

Labour IN for Women National Campaign Day – Saturday 28 May 2016

This Saturday (28th May), Labour IN for Women will be taking over the battle bus. We will be joined by Kate Green MP, Caroline Flint MP and a host of women from across the Party.

The bus will be in Central Cambridge at 10.00am. If you are able to join the battle bus then please inform Sofia Patel (sofia_patel@labour.org.uk).

We are encouraging all women to hold local events to mark the national campaign day for women. You can now purchase Labour IN for Women A5 campaign leaflet which can be used for the national campaign day and beyond.

To share social media content on the day, please follow and share from @UKLabourIN #LabourINforBritain #WomenINforBritain


Local MP argues that ‘Vote Leave’ jeopardises women’s rights

Local MP [INSERT NAME HERE] highlights new research by the TUC and Labour IN which argues that we risk jeopardising women’s rights if we vote to leave on 23 June 2016.

The TUC report concluded that British membership of the European Union has been instrumental in empowering working women and enabling them to challenge unequal pay and inequality at work.

EU law means British women now have a legal right to equal pay, guaranteed rights for part time and flexible workers (there are 6.2 million women working part-time in the UK), paid maternity leave and the right to return to work without loss of position or pay. It also provides for a minimum maternity leave period for employees and protection from gender-based discrimination and harassment.

New analysis by Labour IN shows that the gender pay gap for women in EU-OECD countries is more than four percentage points lower than for women living in non-EU countries within the OECD. That means that in the course of working week a woman in an EU-OECD country earns, on average, almost £170 closer to her male counterpart than a woman living in a wealthy country outside the EU.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The UK’s membership of the EU has led to real and substantial gains in working women’s rights, and these are at risk if we vote to leave. That is why Britain’s biggest trade unions – representing over four million trade unionists - believe Britain is better off in Europe. “

Local MP [insert] said: “Equality between women and men is one of the European Union's founding values and it is because of our membership that British women can be sure of these rights. Leaving the EU would mean turning the clock back on women’s rights at work


Labour IN for Women campaign leaflet

Click here to view the campaign leaflet

Labour IN for Women A5 leaflet can now be purchased from the Labour Party Campaign Shop: https://shop.labour.org.uk/products/labour-in-for-women-a5-flyer-500-per-order-741/.

You can also pick up copies of the leaflet from the PLP office; it can be used on the National Campaign Day for Women (28th May) and beyond.

Brexit Positions

It is clear that women are stronger, safer and better off with Britain in Europe. Those campaigning to leave the EU want to put economic security at risk, scrap important legislation that protects women in the workplace, reduce opportunities for younger generations and hamper Britain’s international efforts to stand up for women worldwide. The leave campaigners’ track record on gender issues proves their careless and narrow-minded attitude to the important issues of equality and non- discrimination.

Leave campaigners have shown time and again their hostility to gender equality and women’s rights:

  • UKIP leader Nigel Farage has said that working mothers are worth less than men

    "A woman who has a client base, has a child and takes two or three years off - she is worth far less to her employer when she comes back than when she went away because that client base won't be stuck as rigidly to her portfolio"
    Nigel Farage, UKIP leader, 20th January 2014.

  • London Mayor Boris Johnson, who backs a leave vote, has said women go to university because they “have got to find men to marry”1, and defended Sir Tim Hunt when he said that the "trouble with girls" in research labs is that they "cry" when criticised and "fall in love" with male counterparts2.

  • The TaxPayers’ Alliance, founded by Vote Leave CEO Matthew Elliott, called for childcare benefits to be cut by 80% when he was Director3

  • Vote Leave supporter Daniel Hannan MEP and UKIP’s Douglas Carswell MP have called for important EU safeguards for workers to be scrapped

    “The European Works Council Directive came into force on 15 January 2000. It places obligations on employers to consult employees, and in doing so hampers productivity and job creation”
    Daniel Hannan and Douglas Carswell, 2008, “The Plan: twelve months to renew Britain”

    “In a similar vein, we would scrap all statutory instruments introduced under the EU directives on part-time work, including part-time workers regulations”
    Daniel Hannan and Douglas Carswell, 2008, “The Plan: twelve months to renew Britain

  • Leave campaigner George Galloway was named ‘Sexist of the Year’ by the End Violence Against Women campaign for suggesting that sexual assaults committed by Julian Assange were “nothing more than bad manners”4

  • UKIP have called for rules protecting parental leave to be scrapped

“It should be up to each employer to decide whether to offer parental leave.“
UKIP, May 2014
  • In a crucial vote in the European Parliament, UKIP MEPs voted against gender pay equality5.

  • UKIP MEP Patrick O’Flynn has said that pregnant women in the workplace are a disaster

  • “It is a myth put about by the Harmanistas that businesses gain when a female employee becomes pregnant. In the current business climate this is a difficult enough strain for large employers. For small ones it is a disaster.”
    Patrick O’Flynn, UKIP MEP, 15 July 2008

  • At the launch of pro-EU exit group Women for Britain, Priti Patel likened the Leave campaign to that of suffragettes. She said those campaigning to quit the EU were fighting the

  • "same cause" to protect "our democratic freedom".
    Priti Patel, Minister of State for Employment, 8th March 2016

  • Helen Pankhurst, great-granddaughter of suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst, said the comparison was

  • "unacceptable...I believe that my great grandmother would have been the first to champion what the EU has meant for women - including equal pay and anti-discrimination laws...”

EU action on Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG)

  • Relevant legal instruments include:

    Victim's Directive which guarantees specialist support and protection from repeat victimisation for women;

    o Equal Treatment Directive which sets high standards on preventing and prohibiting sexual harassment;

    o European Protection Order and mutual recognition in civil matters which mean women are protected from perpetrators when they travel anywhere in the EU;

    o Anti-trafficking Directive which creates a comprehensive framework for prevention, victim support and police cooperation on trafficking (80% of victims are women).

  • 􏰀EU funded programmes and campaigns which contribute to ending violence against women, including the Daphne Programme and the Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme, which has a budget of EUR 439 million for the 2014‐20 period.

  • Action on FGM has been more co-ordinated and strategic thanks to the work of our MEPs in shaping the Commission's work. REPLACE 2 is an example of an innovative, successful and EU-funded project in Coventry aimed at working with communities to eradicate FGM.

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