WORKING women are bearing the brunt of pressures on parents during the coronavirus crisis, a leading union has said.

Women from across the North-East joined leading members of the union Unison to discuss the impact of the pandemic.

Unison, which represents about one million women across the country, including many in sectors which have been hit hard during the pandemic, is preparing to submit a plea for targeted support to the Government.

It follows a survey of members and a Northern region women's forum on Friday, where members were able to share their experiences of the pandemic.

Unison assistant general secretary Christina McAnea said she had heard harrowing stories from women in a range of jobs, including carers, many of whom usually work in several homes and are struggling to make ends meet because of Covid rules.

She said: "Carers are so poorly paid they barely get the minimum wage and many have two or three jobs. Being told to work in only one care home is understandable but it only makes sense if the Government funds it."

She added there were other issues putting increasing pressure on women, including school closures, reduced early years provision, fewer school clubs and children being sent home to isolate.

Women also hold about 70 per cent of jobs which are not entitled to statutory sick pay, the union says.

Calling for a proper review and package of tailored support, she added: "Women have been on the frontline of Covid-19 – the NHS, the care sector, and local government, putting their lives at risk to deliver essential services to the public, but the government response to Covid-19 is letting them down.

"Not only have women worked through PPE shortages, ill-fitting and outdated PPE, women are now disproportionately impacted by the economic fallout from Covid-19."

Regional secretary Clare Williams said: “I am very concerned about the financial impact on the lowest paid workers, pushing more and more women into poverty."

Pat Heron, the chairwoman of Unison's regional women's network, added: “I am particularly worried about the impact on single parent households (90 per cent of which are headed by women), and I am concerned that the gender pay gap will widen."

The union has been carrying out a survey of members in recent weeks and plans to present its findings to the Government shortly.

Ms McAnea added: "We are saying there has to be a proper review. When looking at the impact of Covid, they need to look at every aspect of the impact on women."