Gender pay gap, Pensions/retirement, Women & Gender Equality
Negotiations have begun over changes to the public sector pensions scheme. The Fagforbundet trade union is particularly concerned about addressing gender equality issues and for pensions to take account of the arduousness of many jobs in health and social care which are dominated by women. The demands of many of these jobs often mean that workers cannot stay at work until normal pension age and so there have to be suitable arrangements for early retirement. The union also wants to see improvements in the rules covering the combination of work and retirement.
The vpod/ssp public services trade union along with the SGB/USS trade union confederation is continuing to build for the national women's strike planned for 14 June. The aim of the strike is to address 10 major issues including the gender pay gap, work-life balance, working hours that are either too short or excessively long, sexual harassment and violence, inadequate pensions and the undervaluation of women's work. Along with strike action the unions will be organising events and actions at workplaces and towns and cities across the country.
Just over 300 members of the Fagforbundet and FO health and welfare trade unions in three hospitals began strike action on 29 May in protest at unfair pension arrangements. The unions, among several coordinated by the LO confederation in its LO Stat group, are claiming full pension rights from day one and from the first Krone earnt in line with the arrangements in the municipal sector. At the moment employees working less than 20% of normal full-time hours are not able to build up pension rights. The unions point out that this is clearly gender discrimination as 75% of those affected are women
Following the national women's strike last month, the vpod/ssp public services union has set out a range of demands to tackle gender inequality across the public services and with particular measures in the childcare, health and education sectors. The union wants to see equal pay auditing of all public employers with the involvement of the union and an across-the-board pay increase for occupations and sectors dominated by women - particularly care jobs. Along with this the union underlines the importance of stable and reliable working hours and a range of measures in relation to maternity and
The ETUC used an event in Brussels on 25 February to underline the need for legislation to end pay secrecy clauses, deliver compulsory annual pay audits and the right for workers to request gender pay information from their employers. While information helps, the ETUC also stresses that it is not enough to end inequality in pay and that a directive is needed to empower women workers and their unions to negotiate the changes needed to ensure equal pay in the workplace. Representatives of EPSU joined the action.
A new report by VIVE, the Danish Centre for Social Science Research, provides further confirmation that pay inequality is a major structural problem facing the public services and particularly the care and social service sectors. The research shows that average wages in a sector fall as the proportion of women workers rises and that an annual average salary of DKK 30000 in a sector dominated by men falls to DKK 24150 in a sector dominated by women. Public services unions FOA, BUPL, SL and the cartel of health unions managed to negotiate a specific fund to tackle pay inequality in the 2018
21 October is marked as equal pay day in Austria where the gender pay gap is one of the biggest in Europe at 19.7%. This is based on a full-time woman worker getting an average of EUR 41785 compared to EUR 52033 for a man. This is the equivalent of women working for free for 72 days - hence setting the date as 21 October. Unions highlight the problems of part-time work and unpaid care as contributing to the problem. While 47% of women work part time only 11% of men do.
The Kommunal municipal workers' union has decided not to follow the wage coordination policy agreed by the LO trade union confederation. The union says that urgent action is needed to tackle staff shortages in childcare, health and other welfare services and that if it followed the LO target then workers in those sectors would only get an extra SEK 17 (EUR1.60). For Kommunal it is also important to address low pay in sectors dominated by women and the LO guideline would reduce the gender pay gap by only 0.1%.
14 June marked the anniversary of the massive mobilisation and strike action of women workers across the country to highlight persistent gender inequality. Latest figures show a gender pay gap of close to 20% and an even higher pensions gap of nearly a third. With major mobilisations impossible in the current situation, a week of online and local actions were organised in the week beginning 8 June to highlight the urgent need for action to tackle inequality.