EPSU affiliates around Europe have been developing collective bargaining policies, using legal action and pushing for legislative change to help them address the persistent problem of low pay in sectors dominated by women. In a report commissioned by EPSU, She works hard for the money, and in a presentation to EPSU's Quality Employment conference,Torsten Müller, senior researcher at the European Trade Union Institute, provides a number of examples from Finland, Sweden, Germany, the UK and other countries where public service trade unions have used collective bargaining to improve pay in health and social services. The report uses European data to indicate how skilled and unskilled nurses' pay compares to pay across the economy as a whole and how the percentage of women workers in the sector does appear to have an impact on pay levels. The report also outlines a range of other strategies and tactics used by unions to deal with the fact that pay in sectors dominated by women is seriously undervalued.
Tackling low pay in sectors dominated by women
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(March 2017) Public services union JHL is calling for an extra pay increase for sectors dominated by women. The union chair Päivi Niemi-Laine said:"We need a separate round on top of the general increase. Women-dominated sectors have been kept in check and now we have to ensure that purchasing power remains strong in women-led fields." The union argues that action needs to be taken to address the persistent gender pay gap and that public salaries are being effectively cut by a decision to reduce holiday pay as part of the competitiveness deal negotiated last year.
An analysis by the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) reveals that workers receiving poverty-level pay are among the 35 million of the poorest Europeans who can’t afford a summer holiday. Overall, 28% of EU citizens can’t afford a one-week holiday away from home – but that rises to 59.5% for people whose income is below the at-risk-of-poverty threshold (60% of the median). The worst situation is in Greece where 88.9% of people living at risk of poverty couldn’t afford a break, followed by Romania (86.8%), Croatia (84.7%), Cyprus (79.2%) and Slovakia (76.1%). The ETUC says that many