with Women Who Lead by Example
Sarah-Jane Shaw, Steelworker, Operator on Z-line at Stelco in Hamilton
We are still fighting for equality in the workplace in terms
being given opportunities that men are given. There is still a
perception that women can't do jobs that men can do and so we are still
fighting that. Stelco is a predominantly male workforce with women in
the minority and we are still treated differently and not given the
opportunities that men are given. Things are getting better but we are
not where we need to be yet. We have about 500 production workers here
now and only about 40 are women.
I have personal
experience in this fight. The company trained men
who were junior to me for jobs that I wanted to be trained for. They
could do that because we are all paid the same rate, so they can pick
and choose. We fought, filed grievances and won and I got the training
but that still goes on. It wasn't until the grievances were filed that
I was allowed to train on jobs.
My union, local
1005, is excellent at giving women training opportunities if they
choose to do so.
Generally, in industry, women are
intimidated to even apply to some
industrial workplaces because of the history of what has gone on in the
past. And it is not for everyone. I have friends who I know would not
fit into that environment because it is predominantly male, catered
more to men than women because there are so few of us. One
example is our change house. It is greatly in need of upgrading. It was
originally for men and was condemned years ago but that's now the
change house for the women. It is a dilapidated facility. They have
supposedly ordered a new change house which was to be commissioned last
fall but we haven't seen it yet.
As women in a
predominantly male work force we have come a long way
based on our own work ethics but I believe we still have a long way to
go. Some of the women at Stelco have been very involved in the fight
against Stelco's bankruptcy and all the battles over the years and are
active in the union and all the battles that 1005 has
I am hopeful that the future holds change
and better opportunities
for those starting now. I have 21 years seniority and I want things to
be better for the new women based on all the work we have been doing.
This article was published in
Number 14 - March 8, 2021 - No.