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From The Socialist newspaper, 14 April 2020

Coronavirus crisis

Unite the Union opposes all cuts to domestic violence services

End violence against women!, photo Louise Whittle

End violence against women!, photo Louise Whittle   (Click to enlarge)

Jon Dale, secretary, Unite union EM/NG32 Nottinghamshire Health branch (personal capacity)

Tension is growing in many locked-down homes. It's no surprise domestic violence is increasing too. Calls to Refuge's helpline, the domestic abuse charity, are up 120% since the lockdown began.

The Respect helpline website, which gives confidential advice to perpetrators of domestic violence and abuse, saw a 125% increase in the week beginning 30 March.

Services for women and children fleeing domestic violence have been slashed. Since 2010 almost a quarter of the funding for council services have been cut - almost half in some areas.

Over a six-month period in 2018 1,000 women and children were turned away from refuges due to lack of funding.

Domestic violence is also a workplace issue. Victims may have anxiety, affecting their performance at work, higher sickness absence and experience stalking. Employers need policies to support workers - not push them through standard capability or sickness absence procedures.

Women's Lives Matter was set up in 2018 by campaigners from womens' refuges fighting cuts by local councils and other activists, including Socialist Party members. It produced a model motion for trade unions. This calls for union campaigns to oppose all cuts to domestic violence services, linked to the fight for decent jobs and pay, council homes and public services for all.

The motion also calls on unions to work with campaigners and supportive local councillors to hold people's budget meetings to produce a no-cuts budget which is necessary to prevent the destruction of domestic violence services and the lives they protect.

Unite, like many other unions, had a policy on domestic violence which contains many good points. However, it was written ten years ago and did not reflect a decade of massive cuts from government, passed on by local councils.

In March last year, Unite Nottinghamshire Health Service branch discussed the Women's Lives Matters motion. The branch added an amendment that men can also be victims of domestic abuse, and need to be able to access appropriate services.

The motion was sent to the East Midlands regional committee which passed it to Unite's executive council. They referred it back to the regional committee saying it should also include the need for appropriate agreements to be negotiated in the workplace.

After the motion was sent back to the branch we amended it and sent it back to the regional committee, which then passed it back to the executive council. Twelve months after the first discussion at Nottinghamshire Health Branch this is now Unite's national policy!

Where domestic abuse services are being cut by councils, campaigners should approach Unite for support. Local councillors should refuse to implement any further cuts and demand the money needed for these vital services from the government, as part of a campaign to protect all public services.

As the Covid-19 crisis is showing, years of cuts have left services unable to cope with our needs.

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In The Socialist 14 April 2020:

Coronavirus news

MPs get 10k each for lockdown expenses - where's ours?

Dispatches from the front: NHS staff say give us PPE, not medals!

Johnson's hospitalisation: a tale of two treatments

Big pharma's profiteering holds back drug supply

Lockdown increases domestic violence calls - Tory money a drop in the ocean

NHS nurse: we're not wasting PPE - the Tories don't value us

Rapacious capitalism and the spread of coronavirus

What we think

Exit strategy? PPE and mass testing and workers' control of workplace safety

Fight back against the corona propaganda war


London Transport workers fighting private companies and TfL to secure health and safety

Workplace news

Unite opposes all cuts to domestic violence services

Passport workers forced back to offices as Home Office shirks its duty of care

Collectively demanding safe warehouse working conditions

Usdaw shop workers' union activists meet via Zoom

Coronavirus workplace news in brief


Sabotage - the inner workings of Labour's political machine exposed


Plymouth students discuss rent strike

Final push for May Day greetings

Socialist Party coronavirus crisis finance appeal

Join an online Socialist Party meeting during lockdown

The Socialist Party and socialist ideas are growing

Lessons from history

How the catastrophe of WW1 sparked revolution

Readers' opinion

Going viral: Socialist comments on the corona crisis


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