TUC moves to ban high heels and stilettos in the workplace
Few women can resist the allure of a pair of sexy high heels – and few men can ignore the results. By throwing the pelvis forward, the bottom backward, tightening the calf muscles and making the legs look longer and sleeker, heels accentuate a woman's natural curves – and that's before she even starts walking.
However, the appeal of stilettos appears to be lost on delegates at the TUC, who demanded yesterday that employers take a stand against the risks of wearing high heels at work.
Speakers at the Trades Union Congress conference in Liverpool labelled the style sexist, saying the shoes caused women serious health problems and cost the economy millions of pounds in lost working days. They said employers should be compelled to carry out risk assessments on high heeled shoes, and they "should be replaced with sensible and comfortable shoes" where they posed a risk.
However, there are two sides to the argument and the TUC was roundly criticised by businesswomen and politicians for tabling the motion. Karren Brady, the former director of Birmingham City Football Club, said she would rather have her laptop taken away than her high heels!
Nadine Dorries, the Conservative MP, said the unions were discussing trivial matters. "I'm 5ft 3in and need every inch of my high heels to look my male colleagues in the eye," she added. "If high heeled shoes were banned in Westminster, no one would be able to find me."
The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists (SCP), which initiated the campaign, said it was not trying to outlaw stilettos at work. "This motion is not about telling women what to do. It is about choice," said its spokesman Lorraine Jones. "There are women who don't have a choice, such as shop workers and cabin crew. Some women who are on their feet all day are required by their employers to wear high heels as part of their dress code."
She added: "This is not a trivial problem. We are not trying to ban high heels – they are good when you want to show off your sexy legs, but not they are not suitable for the workplace. Women should be able to wear healthier, more comfortable shoes."
This point of view provoked an immediate response from Ms Dorries, who posted pictures of her two latest pairs of high-heeled shoes on her internet blog.
"I respect the SCP for pointing out the dangers," she said. "However, I would now respectfully ask them to leave it to me and every other woman in the country to decide whether or not we wear high heeled shoes.
"Men have the killer instinct; women have their killer high heels. If you want to know how that works, try taking them off us."
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