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Launch of petition: Invest in a caring society -  A living wage for mothers SW1

Location: UK » London » SW

When: Wednesday 1 May 2013, 7:00pm


Where: Room 10 on Committee Corridor, House of Commons London SW1 Westminster, London SW1

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Please note change of venue: now Room 10 on Committee Corridor, House of Commons
London SW1 Westminster

The Welfare State is being destroyed. For the first time since 1945, our right to survive is under threat. Caring – in the home, hospitals, schools, and every institution – is being attacked.

We are launching a petition to defend caring. Society must invest in mothers and other carers – the foundation of any society.

The petition Invest in caring. Pay carers – mothers and others, is a tool to organise for economic and social policies to be redirected away from the market and towards survival and wellbeing.

Please sign it, ask your networks and organisations to sign.
Come to the launch. There will be an open mic.
Wednesday 1st May 2013, 7-9pm
Room 10 on Committee Corridor, House of Commons
London SW1 Westminster
The meeting will be chaired by John McDonnell MP

Mothers are called ‘workless’ and are impoverished – Income Support is being abolished, Child Benefit is no longer universal. Disabled people were hailed as heroes for great individual achievements during the Paralympics, but now benefits that guarantee their survival and independent living are being cut, and so are the allowances for their carers. Nurses and care workers are blamed for lack of care. But who cares for them – their understaffing, overwork and low wages?

Machines are replacing human labour. But instead of a shorter work week for all, we face longer hours for some, unemployment for others, and falling wages for most – this market-driven economy doesn’t care about anyone.

With welfare, official wages couldn’t fall below benefit level. Without welfare there is no bottom. Already workfare (work for benefits) is bringing in slave labour and bypassing the minimum wage. It was declared illegal so the government backdated the regulation and Labour (with a few exceptions) didn’t oppose, they abstained! Even the TUC has endorsed workfare!

Welfare was to prevent poverty and insecurity. It was an entitlement. It is being replaced with charity and destitution – food banks, food vouchers, evictions, relocation, deportation . . . The bedroom tax and benefit cap are designed to take our homes – those on low incomes, many of us people of colour, are being ethnically and socially cleansed out of London and other high-rent areas to make space for the rich.

The Welfare State was created after World War II when the UK was bankrupt. There is more accumulated wealth than ever now, but none for caring.

As the richest 1% get richer, we suffer inequality and social neglect, war and environmental destruction. Despite climate change threatening our very existence, successive governments have claimed that tackling it is ‘not practical’. It is even being dropped from the school curriculum!

Protest is growing. Whatever your situation, whatever campaign you are involved in, this petition is a tool to help us come together for a caring society.

We look forward to hearing from you, and to seeing you on 1st May at the Commons.

Selma James and Nina Lopez
Global Women’s Strike

For more information: 020 7482 2496

Petition to the UK Parliament.

Invest in a caring society.
A living wage for mothers and other carers.

Mothers are the primary carers everywhere in the world. Caring for children, sick, disabled and elderly people is work vital to society.

Carers are impoverished. Income Support is being abolished. Child Benefit is no longer universal. Carer’s Allowance is insultingly low and most carers don’t qualify. 200,000 care workers are denied the minimum wage.

When mothers are impoverished, children suffer hunger and ill-health, and are more often taken into care.

Mothers are told they are ‘workless’ and that earning is more important than caring. They are pushed into jobs regardless of hours, pay or childcare provision.

They are forced into unpaid work to ‘earn’ their benefits (‘workfare’). ‘Workfare’ bypasses the minimum wage, driving down all wages, especially women’s, and undermining pay equity.

Having to fit caring around jobs results in overwork and exhaustion.
Employed mothers (or fathers) who take time off to care for children or relatives, lose pay, promotion and future pension.

When caring work is devalued, people, relationships and life itself are devalued. The result is inequity and social neglect, but also environmental destruction and war.

Demanding resources for caring redirects economic and social policies towards people and the planet – and away from the uncaring market.

We demand that:
1. Caring must be recognised as vital work for the whole society.
2. All carers, including mothers, must be paid a living wage for this indispensable work, including paid time off.






Issued by: Global Women’s Strike (GWS) $ Women of Colour in GWS
Endorsed by: Single Mothers’ Self-Defence $ WinVisible (women with visible and invisible disabilities)
To endorse email: or call: 020 7482 2496

• 3.5 million UK children (1 in 4) live in poverty; over 50% of children of colour are in poverty. Children with a disabled parent are more likely to live in severe poverty.
• 6 million people (1 in 10) care for a sick, disabled or older person. Over 1 in 3 ‘unemployed’ single parents care for a disabled child. Less than 1 in 10 carers get a Carer’s Allowance of £59.75.
• 1 in 4 mothers skip meals to feed their children. Over 40% of single parent families live in poverty. Single mothers doing a double day of caring and earning get lower wages than men – on average £337 p.w. rather than £491.
• Only 1 in 3 UK babies are breastfed at all at four months; 1 in 4 babies when mothers have to go out to work – with lifelong health consequences for mother and child.
• 88% of mothers of young children with a full-time job would rather work part-time or be full-time carers.
• Over 10,000 children were taken into care in 2011-12. Keeping a child in a care home costs £2,428 a week, foster care costs £489.


1945 Family Allowance (renamed Child Benefit in 1975): universal, paid weekly to every mother, after campaigning led by independent feminist MP Eleanor Rathbone, in recognition of the work mothers do and their right to be financially independent: “Nothing can justify the subordination of one group of producers –the mothers– to the rest, and their deprivation of all share of their own in the wealth of a community which depends on them for its very existence.”

1972 Mothers’ money: government tries to transfer Child Benefit to the ‘wage earner’, usually a man. Wages for Housework co-ordinates a national campaign and CB is kept in mothers’ hands.

1976 Invalid Care Allowance (renamed Carer’s Allowance in 2003): paid to those caring 35+ hours weekly; later extended to those caring for spouses and to over-65s but cancelled out by pension.

1977 US Conference on Women (mandated by Congress): “The elimination of poverty must be a priority for all those working for equal rights for women . . . just as with other workers, homemakers receiving [welfare] payments should be afforded the dignity of having that payment called a wage, not welfare.”

1995 UN Conference on Women agrees that national accounts should include the value of caring work.

1996 US ‘welfare reform’ ends entitlement and becomes the model for UK policies.

2011 US Rise Out of Poverty Act and WORK (Women’s Option to Raise Kids) Act: introduced in Congress. John McDonnell MP tables an Early Day Motion calling for similar legislation in the UK.

2012 Child Benefit no longer universal: mothers in higher earnings households are excluded, while mothers on benefits may lose it through the ’benefits cap’.

2013 The Welfare State is being destroyed – benefits, the NHS, legal aid . . . survival is now under threat.

Our planet is on the brink. The market is pushing us to destruction. The market says it is ‘not practical’ to tackle climate change, and takes melting ice caps as a ‘business opportunity’ to drill for oil! By demanding resources for caring we demand the economy be redirected away from the market and its profit-driven wars, and towards caring for humans and all living things. Only the people can decide what should and shouldn’t be produced, and how to use technology to meet needs, work less, waste less and save the planet.

The Welfare State was created after WWII when the UK was bankrupt. Since then, money is always found for war against the will of the people: war in Afghanistan and Iraq cost $4+ trillion; £20bn paid by the UK on top of its £35bn annual defence budget. While services and benefits are cut, the richest 1,000 people got richer by £155bn in three years – enough to pay off the UK deficit with £30bn to spare.

This is an international perspective. In countries receiving aid, we demand that the money goes to mothers and other carers: used to attack poverty rather than to buy arms and line a few pockets.

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