Belfast Telegraph

Women's rights abuses 'escalating'

Abuse of women's rights in the workplace has escalated in the recession, a trade union claims.

Unite revealed it is dealing with more cases than ever during the difficult economic times.

Regional officer Claire Keane said managers are illegally pressuring expectant mothers, including some who are bullied and sworn at.

"We have a case where a senior employee was told after announcing she was pregnant that she would be replaced by a software programme," said Ms Keane.

"Another where her ability to work part time, established over five years, was suddenly withdrawn after she announced her second pregnancy and she was told the position could only be done on a full-time basis.

"Women are being abused in ways that are wholly unacceptable. On International Women's Day we want to spread the word that they do not need to just accept this.

"They have rights, hard fought for, and they are stronger if they stand together on behalf of their colleagues."

The union marked the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day by publishing extracts of a complaint filed by a customer service worker in Leinster as evidence of abuse still deemed acceptable by some managers.

Unite is considering taking a case to the Equality Tribunal on behalf of the woman, who said the first incident happened two weeks after she told her manager she was four months pregnant.

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