Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/942/25157
Women need secure jobs and equal pay, not patronising 'returnships'
Laurel Fogarty, recent parent
The Tory government has announced £5 million of investment in 'returnships': internships targeted at women who left work to raise a family.
The scheme exploits experienced women who have been out of work for a number of years, giving them between two and 12 weeks of 'work experience' at lower pay, often on a part-time basis. There is no guarantee of full-time employment at the end of the scheme.
This represents an increasing devaluation of women's labour as well as the continued casualisation of the workforce in every domain.
Returnships further entrench the nonsense idea that women who have chosen to raise families have somehow become unskilled, less effective workers, and liabilities who should not be employed on full-time contracts or at their previous rate of pay.
This is blatant super-exploitation masquerading as opportunity. It allows companies to take advantage of women: using their skills and expertise and paying them less.
Patronising internships are not the answer for women who choose to take a break from work to raise a family, or for those who are forced out of work after having children due to the high cost of childcare and entrenched sexism.
Nor are they the answer for thousands of working class women who do not have access to the scheme - which is aimed at executives and managers - but are equally devalued in the workplace.
Capitalism thrives on the free domestic labour of women. At the same time it labels women who have chosen or been forced to do this work as 'risky' employees - preventing them from re-joining the workforce on an equal footing with men.
We must fight this system and fight for the rights of women to work, for affordable childcare, and for an end to all exploitation. Public ownership and democratic planning of the economy could lay the basis to make any improvements women win permanent.
In The Socialist 29 March 2017:
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