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Abortion rights: PCS public-sector workers reject demands to end affiliation to progressive rights group

Majority of PCS union conference delegates reject calls to end affiliation to abortion rights group, saying abortion 'fundamentally a trade union issue'

Calls for PCS to take a neutral position on abortion were overwhelmingly rejected at the union’s conference yesterday.

Delegates dismissed demands for the union to cancel its affiliation to the Abortion Rights campaign after a decade of support.

PCS is among nine trade unions that back the pro-choice group, along with the TUC and the National Union of Students.

Rebecca Young argued that the link should be dropped to avoid disunity among union members.

She said: “Not everyone agrees with abortion and the union’s time and money shouldn’t be used furthering abortion rights.”

Other, mostly male, speakers supporting the disaffiliation bid insisted that abortion rights were not a trade union issue.

But national executive member Helen Flanagan said a women’s right to choose was “fundamentally a trade union issue.”

“Over 60 per cent of our members are female, so this is an issue that directly effects our members,” she said.

Conference heard how the High Court upheld a ban earlier this month on women from Northern Ireland receiving free NHS abortions in England.

Scottish government group president Cheryl Gedling said that it showed abortion rights were an important class issue.

She said: “Wealthy women always have and always will have access to abortion — it’s working-class women who are denied the right to choose.

“Our members terms and conditions aren’t decided in a vacuum but in a political, social and economic context in which we live.”

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