The Pandemic Experience: From the perspective of IAMAW Sisters
The pandemic is putting strain on many things, but not on the solidarity of IAM sisters!
28 IAM sisters and brothers connected on May 5th , a day that also commemorates missing and murdered indigenous women, to discuss the unique issues women face during the pandemic. The impact of the pandemic has not been the same for everyone; for instance, we know low wage earners are impacted by joblessness at a higher rate than those earning higher wages. Among those earning lower wages are women and without a doubt, those most vulnerable are bearing the heaviest burden.
The purpose of the discussion was to ensure a gender lens is applied to bargaining priorities, and policies once the pandemic ends. “It’s important that the union provides protection specific to the needs of women because we’ve seen the unique issues women have experienced.” Said Heather Kelley, GLR and Women’s and Human Rights Representative.
The teleconference was a resounding success, indicating that not only is there an interest, but a need to address women’s issues within the IAM. Ivana Saula, the Canadian Research Director commented, “the number of participants exceeded expectations, and it’s great to see so many engaged women. It’s an indicator that these conversations are overdue.”
“Workplaces will be different, and the way we work will be different, so, it’s important to address vulnerabilities that have arisen and address them through collective agreements and legislative action.” GVP Stan Pickthall added. GVP Pickthall went on to say that, “we want to make sure workplaces are equipped to provide appropriate support, but that we’re also advocating for legislative support that may be lacking.”
Heather Kelley said that she hopes that this conversation continues and that the IAM builds on an initiative that has engaged IAM sisters. Heather also commented that “the teleconference was not just an opportunity for a discussion, it also allowed sisters to connect for the first time since the Women’s Conference and maintain relationships that were built there.” Even though these are challenging times, it’s encouraging that solidarity is as strong as it’s ever been, and the teleconference yesterday stands as a testament to that.