The government has recently announced that it wants to eliminate the gender pay gap within a generation. We have heard this many times before. In fact, as far back as 1955 Chancellor R A Butler announced that men’s and women’s pay scales would become identical within seven years.
Almost 70 years later we can see it is no more than rhetoric.
The gender pay gap across the civil service is 12.2% on average. In some departments women are earning almost 17% less than their male colleagues. This means that women in the civil service are hit twice as hard – by the pay gap and the pay cap. This can only be addressed by a fully-funded pay rise.
Our campaign is not only for equal pay but also for fair pay. Gender pay gap reporting helps us to build our case for fair pay but it doesn’t go far enough. We also urgently need the introduction of pay monitoring for Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) and disabled civil servants. Equality reporting across the protected characteristics would provide an accurate picture of the pay gap and expose what we know to be true about the unfairness that continues to blight our members.
Years of the pay cap has meant that departments have not had the funding to address inequality and offer at least some sort of increase across the board at the same time. So how on earth does the government think that the gender pay gap can be eliminated except by not paying any increase at all to staff already at the top of their pay grade?
We are also demanding an end to delegated pay bargaining. In the past 20 years it has allowed departments where the majority of staff are women to pay less than departments where the majority are men.
It is time for a fully-funded pay increase of 10%, with an underpin of £2,400, to ensure that inequality is addressed as well as starting to restore standards of living. The underpin will be of most benefit to women, BAME and disabled workers who make up the majority of our lowest-paid members.
It is simply outrageous that civil service pay remains the poor relation of the public sector. The government is relying on our members’ sense of public service in continuing to keep our pay increase capped at 1%, to pay for the mistakes of the past and under-regulation of the financial markets.
We need to be a little less polite in our language. Continuing pay inequality for members in all protected characteristics, 10 years of massive erosion in the value of civil servants’ salaries, unfunded – and lack of – pay progression, and failure to regard the maximum for the grade as the rate for job – it all adds up to one conclusion: state exploitation of our members’ labour.