The STUC will campaign to extend the VAT exemption on ‘working’ dog food to guide dogs for the blind and other assistance dogs.
Delegates were astonished to hear that affluent owners of racing greyhounds, sheep dogs and gun dogs get the exemption for ‘working dogs’ but guide dogs do not qualify.
Supporting the motion from the STUC Disabled Members Conference, UNISON’s Kathleen Kennedy, said: “UNISON welcomes and supports this motion as it is just another tax or an attack on disabled people.
A couple of hours after Jeremy Corbyn pledged to the STUC that he would abolish zero hours contracts, delegates heard how unions were organising to win employment rights for thousands of people in ‘precarious’ work.
The motion laid out a seven point strategy to improve legal entitlements, more union recognition, and stronger union organisation. It also called for a report on powers local authorities could use to ensure fair and safe working practices and an examination of how a ‘tourist tax’ might be used to boost conditions for employees.
UNISON Scotland’s Kate Ramsden weighed in with an analysis of the reason behind the drive to cut workers’ rights and security.
The STUC has backed the Homeless Period campaign to ensure tampons/towels are made available through homeless shelters by the Government.
It will also call on the Scottish Government to undertake a review on the affordability of feminine hygiene products in Scotland and introduce measures to address the inequality of access to sanitary products for women and girls in Scotland.
Seconding the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy motion, UNISON’s Kate Ramsden recalled 10 years ago when Thabitha Khumalo of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions addressed UNISON Conference asking for support for Dignity Period, a charity set up by ACTSA to provide sanitary wear for women in Zimbabwe.
“But it is an ongoing issue not just in the developing world but here in the UK”, said Kate. “I am just as appalled at the indignity and the health implications of women and girls across the UK – in the sixth richest country in the world – being unable to afford sanitary wear.
Congress agreed to remit Aberdeen Trade Union Council’s two motions on Palestine in favour of a robust General Council statement reinforcing the STUC’s support for the Palestinian people and for the campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS)
The statement pledged to encourage affiliates with BDS policies to support members through financial, legal and other means, who undertake activities within these policies but who are subjected to unfounded accusation. The STUC will also update its BDS campaign pack in association with Scottish Palestine Solidarity organisations to reflect key boycott strategies amidst a worsening situation in Palestine.
Supporting the motion and the remit UNISON’s Kate Ramsden told delegates that many of the affiliated unions in this hall will have a policy of support for the BDS movement which works to end international support for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians and to pressure Israel to comply with international law.
“My own union, UNISON has had such a policy for some years and this was re-confirmed at last year’s National Conference.
The STUC has backed a campaign against Government pension cuts that have left millions of women’s retirement plans in chaos.
It will demand the government provides a full package of transitional arrangements for all women born on or after 6th April 1951 who have ‘unfairly borne the burden of the increase to the State Pension Age.’
Moving the UNISON motion, Kate Ramsden praised the work of the Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) campaign.
Kate said: “The 1995 Tory Government’s Pension Act included plans to increase women’s SPA (State Pension Age) to 65, the same as men’s. The WASPI campaign agrees with equalisation, but does not agree with the unfair way the changes were implemented – with little or no personal notice and no time to make alternative plans. Retirement plans have been shattered with devastating consequences.