October 16th: The Regional Women’s Committee of Unite the Union has said that Budget 2014 represents an attack on working and retired women. Speaking today, the union’s Equalities Organiser Taryn Trainor said:
“Whether they are seeking work, in work or retired, women will feel the full force of Ireland’s seventh austerity Budget.
“While we don’t have a figure for the number of young women affected by the decision to further reduce unemployment assistance payments for young adults, we do know that female youth unemployment has increased by 67.5 per cent since the onset of the crisis, while the number of young women unemployed for a year or more has risen by a staggering. 136 per cent since 2008. This cynical measure is being introduced at a time when there are 32 applicants for every vacancy and a shortage of suitable training places. This cut will simply incentivise even more young people to emigrate.
“What the government refers to as ‘standardising’ maternity benefit will actually mean a weekly cut of €32 for working mothers, who already suffered an effective cut last year when the benefit was subjected to tax. Unite is also concerned that this cut further undermines the social insurance system.
“As has been pointed out by the Women’s Council, the package of cuts aimed at older people – ranging from increased prescription charges to the telephone allowance withdrawal – will impact disproportionately on women who are more likely to be reliant on State supports and to experience poverty in old age.
“In addition to bearing the impact of specific cuts, both women and men will have to continue carrying the burden of a stagnant economy in which the failed policy of austerity continues to depress consumer demand and prevent jobs being created”, Ms Trainor concluded.