Discrimination in pay systems, the undervaluing of jobs where women are in the majority, a lack of recognition and support for carers and unequal access to jobs with higher earnings all disadvantage women and the problems are even greater for women who work part time.
In the civil service and in government employment, pay bargaining is delegated to over 200 separate bargaining areas, leading to wide variations in pay rates and an increased gender pay gap in areas where the majority of low paid staff are women.
This has resulted in a pay gap between women and men which is even higher than the 12 per cent UK average.
In the Department for Transport for example, women executive officers in the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) are paid 16 per cent less than male equivalents working for the Driving Standards Agency (DSA).
PCS is challenging this particular pay inequality but there are many more examples from other areas of the civil service and the public sector.
PCS believes that the government as an employer must do much more to close the gender pay gap and address low pay issues.
We are tackling the problem in a number of ways, through:
We believe that equal pay laws are not strong enough and that it is all too easy for employers to avoid their legal obligations.
The government is currently drafting a new equality bill covering all aspects of discrimination and we are calling for stronger measures on equal pay
We want all employers to be required to carry out equal pay audits and then to act on the findings of these to close the earnings gap between men and women.
We want all employers to be covered by the Gender Equality Duty and for the duty to be used to encourage employers to take action to end discrimination between men and women in the workplace.
We are concerned that the current UK and global recession will be used as an excuse by employers to push equal pay further down the agenda.
We have to act now to ensure that the fight for equal pay continues to have a high priority.
In addition to raising awareness about equal pay amongst PCS members we are organising a postcard campaign to the minister for equality calling for stronger legal rights, we will be putting down parliamentary questions on the equal pay and low pay issues faced by our members and we will be tabling an early day motion for MP’s to sign up to if they support our cause.