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Concentration of women in low paying jobs

An important factor in the gender pay is the concentration of women in low paid jobs. This is a difficult area for trade union action as it is about the structure of the labour market but some initiatives can be taken that will contribute to gradually changing the divide that exists in some occupations.

Armenia

Trade union: HWUA Sector: Health and Social Services

The healthcare system in Armenia is a sector with a preponderance of female workers and the lowest average wage of all sectors, which has remained frozen over the last 15 years. As a result, over the past few years there has been a decline in the attractiveness of work in this sector, particularly among men, which has led to an even greater concentration of women within it. Whereas 9.9% of working women and 2.8% of working men were employed within the healthcare and social services system in 2005, in 2008 these proportions fell to 8.1% of women and 1.4% of men. The percentage of women working in the sector thus rose from 70.5% in 2005 to 83.2% in 2008, while the percentage of men decreased by a factor of 1.75.

Austria

Trade union: VIDA Sector: Private health

Very few men apply for cleaning and kitchen work.

Czech Republic

Trade union: TUHSSC Sector: Health and Social Services

The Union has not engaged in social dialogue on this issue. Nevertheless, as health and social services are typically female sectors, women are employed across the board from low-paid to executive positions.

Denmark

Trade union: FOA Sector: Municipal

Statistics from the Wages Commission confirmed the extent to which women account for the vast majority of workers in the lowest paid professions in the public sector. For example, taking the five lowest paid occupations, women they make up 98.8% of the lowest paid group - childminders; 68.5% of nursery assistants, 88.1% of health and social care assistants, 90.9% of cleaners and domestic helps employed by the municipalities and 88.9% of cleaners and domestic helps employed by the regions. (Figures are from 2007 as used in the Wages Commission report 2010, table 3.17, p. 102-104, Wages Commission 2010, table 3.22, p. 116)

Finland

Trade union: FIPSU Sector: Public sector

Sector-specific and agreement-sector-specific statistics on the number and earnings of men and women categorised according to job titles are available. The labour market in Finland is generally very strongly divided into women’s and men’s jobs. There is a considerably higher proportion of women in lower-paying jobs.

France

Trade union: FNEM-FO Sector: Energy

In terms of the recruitment and career development, FO is calling for more information about professions in the sector and argues for a change in attitude at every level - among parents, in the education system, among workers and managers - in relation to technical occupations. There is a need to focus on the recruitment of women into technical jobs and to encourage transfers from service jobs to more technical occupations.

Norway

Trade union: Fagforbundet Sector: Municipal

The most important reason for different wages and salaries is the gender-segregated labour market – the fact that women and men choose different occupations. One consequence of this is that those occupations where women are in the majority are essentially paid less than occupations where men predominate. The lower paid occupations are the best example of this, except for some occupations that comprise employees in the health and social services sectors, and where women are the majority. Examples include: pre-school teachers, child welfare officers and nurses.

The most important requirement for changing the situation is to ensure there is a low wage profile in the wage settlements and raising the wages and salary levels in these occupations. Such demands will improve women’s wages and salaries, change the pay differences between the sexes in the long term and contribute to ensuring that more men find it interesting to apply for those jobs.

The wage settlement of May 1 2010 was meant to be an equal pay settlement, and all parties set a strong focus on the issue through demands and negotiations. The result was an increase in the wages and salary level for many female-dominated groups, but this is far from sufficient to call off the battle for the narrowing of pay differentials between women and men.

Sweden

Trade union: Kommunal Sector: Municipal blue collar

This is not a matter for negotiation, but rather a matter of influencing public opinion. Kommunal works towards a gender balance in the areas of our organisation.

UK

Trade union: FBU Sector: Fire Service

The FBU are aware that women do populate the majority of lower paid jobs/roles across the Fire and Rescue Service (FRS) as a whole. This is particularly applicable to newly appointed Emergency Fire Control staff who have yet to earn the ceiling figure prior to the pay freeze in 2010. At least 79% of these are women if the national gender average in Emergency Fire Control Rooms is applied.

Trade union: UNISON Sector: Public Sector

[Updated 2011] UNISON has sought to raise the status of work traditionally carried out by women, profiling the essential nature of the services provided by low paid workers and to ensure that these workers are properly rewarded. There is evidence of some improvement, with around 1/3 of management roles (public and private sector) now being occupied by women, but the most senior posts are generally still held by men, and a gender pay gap still exists.