“Scrap the cap, close the gap” TUC hears

13 Sep 2017

47 years after the Equal Pay Act women are still being paid less than their male colleagues - and the TUC will fight to address this, was the message heard loud and clear today at Congress.

Motion 40, ending the gender pay gap, was moved by Vicky Knight from the TUC women’s conference.

“47 years after Equal Pay Act I am devastated to be standing here and asking for end to the gender pay gap,” she said.

She highlighted not only the disparate pay gap, but also that once it is exposed that employers are not obliged to do anything about it.

“Let us be frank here. If an employer fails to publish a gender pay gap report nothing will happen to them,” she said, pressing the importance of holding employers to account.


Pay reporting

Indeed, the motion set out that while Congress welcomes the principle of mandatory gender pay gap reporting, it is disappointed that the legislation is not robust enough. 

The method of calculating the hourly rate of pay for staff on guaranteed hours, annualised hours, term-time hours and those on zero-hours contracts will hide the real gender pay gap.

“Five decades almost after equal pay act – let’s get on with it,” she said.

Heather McKenzie from the NEU, echoed Knight’s sentiments, arguing that it was all very well talking about scrapping the pay cap in the civil service, but it means nothing if the gender pay gap is not closed.

“We will never scrap the cap if we don't close the gap,” she shouted, to cheers.


PCS sets out a framework

PCS delegate Louise Kowalska spoke in support of the motion, and highlighted that the gender pay gap meant that every woman attending TUC essentially has worked for free since 4.30pm yesterday (Tuesday).

Within the civil service, women are paid on average 13% less than their male counterparts, she said - down from 15% the previous year.

She added: “At this rate it will take until 2054 to achieve gender pay equality in the civil service.”

Motion documents highlight that the budget for the Equality and Human Rights Commission has been slashed by 75% since 2010. 

This is only possible because the Commission’s budget is set by government and its activities are regulated via a Framework Agreement with the government Equalities Office. The Secretary of State appoints the Board and the Chair, further undermining its independence.

“The struggle to close the gender pay gap needs increased funding for ECHR,” Kowalska said, highlighting the PCS campaign for increased funding at the Equality and Human Rights Commission

Speakers also highlighted the fact that many women face inequality in pay when returning to work after having a baby.

“Many teachers pay and promotion prospects never fully recover from maternity leave,” Kathy Duggan from Nasuwt said. 

Linda Hobson, speaking for Unite, also raised the disparate employment opportunities offered to women on having children

“I am sick of hearing ‘you chose to have kids’” she said. “We’d be in sorry state if women took collective action and stopped,” she joked.


Next steps

The TUC Women’s Committee will now work with affiliates to campaign for:

  • Full pay transparency 
  • Legal requirements for companies to address pay inequality with serious penalties for those that fail to take action
  • A free tribunal system for gender pay and post-maternity job issues
  • A strategy of national campaigning, research and localised action to end the gender pay gap and casualisation
  • The amendment of the Equality Act 2006, so that the Commission reports directly to Parliament in the manner that the Electoral Commission reports to the Speaker’s Committee
  • The EHRC to be given the powers and resources to ensure compliance with the new gender pay gap reporting regulations.


Furthermore, the TUC to work with affiliates to press the government to:

  • Remind employers of their duties to provide information to recognised trade unions for the purposes of collective bargaining
  • Remind employers of their duties to comply
  • Issue explicit guidance to all schools and colleges on their statutory duties to collect, analyse and report information on the gender pay gap
  • Publish reports on all information that is collected nationally on staff in the education sector.

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