(5 December 2017) The EPSU Women’s and Gender Equality Committee, meeting in Brussels, on 27 November 2016, adopted a common strategy for tackling the gender pay gap in response to a recent Action Plan on the Gender Pay Gap adopted by the European Commission on the 20th of November 2017.
The Gender Pay Gap
The gender pay gap is a persistent phenomenon world-wide and thus contributes and exacerbates discrimination and the many inequalities that women suffer. Despite some improvements over the last few years, the gap remains at an unjustified 16.3 per cent throughout the EU. The WGEC affiliates discussed the recent action plan proposed by the Commission. They supported the action by the Commission, but also pointed out that it needed political commitment and fast action, in particular at the legislative level, to start closing the gender pay. They called for an amendment to the Equality Directive 2006/54 to include pay transparency as one of the key measures against the gender pay gap. They also adopted a concerted strategy vis-à-vis the implementation of the Action Plan on the Gender Pay Gap. In this context, the affiliates committed help collecting information on existing trade union strategies, including collective bargaining, with a view to eliminating that gap.
Towards a New Gender Contract
The WGE Committee also discussed the preparation for EPSU’s Conference on implementing gender equality in times of crisis, which will be held in Prague on the 7th and 8th of February 2018. Affiliates discussed the program of and the participation at the conference. They agreed that it was high time to redefine the existing informal gender contract and observed that in the last two decades, gender equality had dropped off the European agenda evidenced by the recent publication of the European Gender Equality Index (EIGE), which revealed that Europe had made very little progress over the last ten years with a score of only 66,2 out of 100. Women continue to experience gender discrimination as evidenced by the gender pay and pension gaps, under-representation in decision-making and violence at home and in the work place.
Members of the Committee also recalled that the EPSU is fully committed to gender equality and has made it one of its top priorities. In 2017, the EPSU Executive Committee adopted a resolution and a Roadmap, detailing concrete actions, on Gender Equality and Women’s Rights.
The WGEC endorsed the draft agenda which aims to bring together trade unionist, international organizations, European institutions and researcher in order to define a new gender contract alongside specific policies which address existing gender inequality and discrimination.
Planning for International Women’s 2018
The members of the WGEC had a first opportunity to discuss a draft plan for the 8th of March 2018. The EPSU Executive Committee on 7 April 2017 had identified the 8th of March 2018 and 2019 as key moments to mobilize for gender equality and address the structural nature of gender discrimination. The priorities of actions include closing the gender pay gap, work-life balance, preventing and raising awareness about gender-based violence, women’s rights, representation of women in EPSU and collective bargaining and organizing.
Moreover, the EPSU’s commitment to a progressive target for closing the gender pay gap by 5 per cent provides the basis for evaluating current strategies and reinforcing actions at national and sectoral levels.
Members of the WGEC felt strongly that International Women’s Day can help give visibility to the work of affiliates, illustrate the extent of the structural gender gaps and create a forum of exchange at national and international levels. The diversity of EPSU’s membership provides the opportunity to highlight the different dimensions of gender inequalities and their specific manifestations at the work place and beyond. They also stressed that it would be important to link with what PSI and what the ETUC will be doing. Members agreed that the slogan “We will not wait 200 years; the time for equality is now.
The EPSU’s gender equality conference in Prague will be an opportunity to collect video statements from the different affiliates highlighting the particular inequalities in their countries or sectors. These videos will then be disseminated for use on and around the 8th of March. Please see the details of the planning here.