National Women's Conference Resolutions 2017

Circular No: NP/153/17
Our Ref: EO/6


2nd October 2017

Dear Colleague,


I write with regards to the above matter and to inform you that the resolutions which were successfully passed at this year’s National Women’s Conference have now been considered by the union’s National Executive Committee (with the exception of resolution (ii)). The resolutions together with the NEC decisions are as follows:-

i)    50th Anniversary of the 1967 Abortion Act

1.    this year is the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Abortion Act

2. before this Act, women who did not want to continue an unwanted pregnancy were forced to seek illegal abortion; while richer women could often find private doctors to do this, working-class women were forced into dangerous 'backstreet abortions' where many were injured and some died.


1.    reaffirm our union's policy commitment to supporting every woman's right to choose whether or not to continue a pregnancy

2.    campaign for public provision for free, safe, legal abortion on the NHS; for the extension of the 1967 Act to Northern Ireland; and for sex education, free contraception, and other measures to reduce unwanted pregnancy

3.    publish an article in RMT News marking the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Abortion Act and explaining the union's policy

4.    in conjunction with the National Women's Advisory Committee, draw up and implement a plan to mark the 50th anniversary and take forward this union's policy.”

National Executive Committee Decision:-

“We instruct the General Secretary to take up in line with the resolution.”

ii)         Women's Cancers and Work

1. each year, there are over 55,000 new diagnoses of breast cancer in the UK, 3,000 new diagnoses of cervical cancer, over 7,000 of ovarian cancer, over 9,000 of uterine cancer, over 1,000 of vulval cancer

2. nearly 12,000 UK women die each year from breast cancer, over 4,000 from ovarian cancer, over 2,000 from uterine cancer, nearly 500 from vulval cancer, and nearly 900 from cervical cancer

3. 1 in 8 women (and therefore around 1,500 current RMT women members) will develop breast cancer during their lifetime.


1. 4-5% of breast cancer cases in the UK are linked to shift work, due to circadian disruption and exposure to artificial light at night

2. studies have shown that breast cancer risk is 21% higher in women who have ever experienced circadian disruption, mainly through night work, versus those who have not

3. exposure to certain substances at work also increases the risk of breast and other women's cancers as well as health and emotional difficulties, women also experience loss of income as a result of cancer: Macmillan estimates that four out of five people lose £570 per month or more

4. Tory government austerity cuts have included withdrawing over 20 cancer treatments, reducing funding to public health funding, and cutting research funding; National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) decided in December 2016 not to provide a medicine which can extend the lives of women with advance breast cancer.


1.    conduct risk assessments that include cancer risks to women, and take action to reduce these risk factors

2.    carry out their legal duties regarding the health of night workers

3.    pay full sick pay to women absent from work through cancer; release women from work with full pay to attend all cancer-related appointments

4.    do not count cancer-related absence towards any disciplinary process under MFA/attendance policies.


1.    submit the above demands to all employers

2.    produce a 'know your rights' guide for women members about cancer, including risk prevention, and rights following diagnosis

3.    support campaigns to defend the NHS from cuts and privatisation.”


This resolution was submitted to the AGM.

National Executive Committee Decision:-

This has been referred to the Health & Safety sub-committee for their consideration.

iii)        Effective Implementation of Resolutions


1.    our Women's Conference and Women's Advisory Committee have passed many resolutions over the years on issues important to women members, from workplace issues such as sexual harassment and carers' rights, to international solidarity with women workers

2.    the union could have done more to implement these resolutions in an active, high-profile, effective way

3.    improving systems of consultation and accountability can help improve our effectiveness in carrying out these decisions

4.    currently, the National Executive's Equal Rights Sub-committee presents a written report to each meeting of the National Women's Advisory Committee, but it is only circulated at the meeting, and only covers the implementation of the most recent resolutions.


1.    to ensure that the Equal Rights Sub-committee's report is sent to NWAC members in advance of the meeting, so that they have time to think about, and consult members about, its contents

2.    ensure that the report covers the implementation of previous resolutions which are still ongoing issues

3.    that Equal Rights Sub-committee members meet with the Chair and/or other members of the NWAC to discuss how resolutions might be effectively implemented, especially if they were not present when the resolutions were debated and passed.”


This resolution was submitted to the AGM.

National Executive Committee Decision:-

“That we note the AGM decision and the debate covering this item.  

We note that the General Secretary confirmed during the debate that there are structures in place for regular reporting back via our equality committees which includes participation of NEC members.  In addition the General Secretary is instructed to ensure that the report to the NWAC is issued in advance in line with the AGM decision.”  

iv)        Women in Branch Plans

“As activists, local representatives and branch officials we have taken part in the union wide branch planning and mapping. We are disappointed to notice that no provision was made to find what proportion of membership density was based on gender, which would be a positive aid to recruiting women members and increasing the activity of our sisters in the workplace

This Conference calls on the National Union to include gender as a factor in the creation of all future mapping and recruitment campaigns and for the regional councils, branches and organising unit to liaise with our Women's Advisory to promote maximum organisation of women in the transport industry.”

National Executive Committee Decision:-

“That we instruct the General Secretary to write to Regions and remind them to include all equality groups in Regional and Branch plans.”

v)         Driver Only Operation

“This Conference commends the unions solidarity to keep safety critical guards on passenger trains.  Conference notes that Driver Only Operation (DOO) is acceptable for freight but should never be accepted for passenger services.  This Conference notes the importance of a guard on a train particularly for lone females on late-night services, children who may be lost and in distress and people with disabilities to get on and off the train.  CCTV should be seen as a tool but a not a replacement for a guard.

This Conference calls on the General Secretary to maintain the union’s solidarity for keeping a safety critical guard on passenger trains.”

National Executive Committee Decision:-

“That we note the message of solidarity from our Women’s Conference.  We note that this is already union policy.”

vi)  Menopause

“North Clyde recognise that the menopause can lead to health and emotional changes in women. Employers are slow to recognise that adjustments may need to be made within the workplace and that this is now an occupational issue.

Women make up almost half the workforce and as the retirement age increases more women over 50 will still be working.  Around 80 per cent of women going through the menopause experience noticeable changes and 45 per cent find symptoms hard to deal with. This can affect how a woman does her work. Workplaces and working practices are not designed with menopausal women in mind. The TUC research survey showed it was the working environment that was making symptoms worse.

We ask that the women’s conference ask the General Secretary to contact companies that we have negotiating rights with if they have a policy in place that helps menopausal women and if not for the women’s committee to draw up a policy.”

National Executive Committee Decision:-

“That we instruct the General Secretary to take up in line with the resolution.”

I will now be acting on the instructions of these decisions and I will, of course, keep you fully advised on any further developments. I would be grateful if you could bring the contents of this circular to the attention of your members.

Yours sincerely,
Mick Cash
General Secretary