(March 2017) Marking International Women's Day with a focus on the gender pay gap, both EPSU and the ETUC underlined the need for urgent action to deliver pay rises across Europe with a particular emphasis on higher increases for sectors and occupations dominated by women. Flat-rate increases, job evaluation and other measures were highlighted as part of the strategy to address the gender pay gap and low pay among women workers.
Women & Gender Equality, Europe
In a joint press release the ETUC and EPSU underlined the need for urgent action to tackle the gender pay gap. They were reacting to the publication of the European Commission's Action Plan which addresses eight core themes: improving the application of the equal pay principle; combating segregation in occupations and sectors; initiatives to deal with vertical segregation; reducing the care penalty; better valorizing women's skills, efforts and responsibilities; exposing inequalities and stereotypes; informing about the gender pay gap and enhancing partnerships.
A new report commissioned by EPSU provides an update of trends in the gender pay gap in the public services between 2010 and 2016. While the overall gender pay gap was only 0.3 percentage points lower across the whole economy and 1.6 percentage points lower in the business sector at the end of the period, it fell by 1.9 percentage points in education, 2.2 percentage points in health and social work and 2.3 percentage points in public administration. The overall pay gap was 14.9% across the whole economy in 2016 compared to 10.7% in education, 17.9% in health and social work and 9.4% in public
The ETUC has called for swift adoption of the draft directive on work-life balance as a key measure that will make a real difference to women's pay and employment prospects. According to the ETUC the Directive would strengthen rights in many member states. For example paid paternity leave of 10 days would be new in Austria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Germany, Croatia, and Slovakia, while four months' paid and non-transferable parental leave would improve rights in Bulgaria, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands and the UK. Measures on carers' lave and the right to request flexible working arrangements
The Eurofound research agency has published a new report that analyses how gender pay audits have been implemented in four countries - Austria, Denmark, Sweden and Finland. It is based on company-level gender pay reports and reveals that there have been mixed results in terms of compliance, in the initial phase. It also highlights room for improvement in engaging employee representatives and in raising employees’ awareness.
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
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.
EPSU has joined with the PSI, ETUC, ITUC and other labour movement organisations in calling for an International Labour Organisation Convention against gender-based violence at the workplace. The call comes on the United Nations’ International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, which takes place on 25 November every year. A draft text is under discussion and could be agreed at the ILO conference next year although the ETUC has concerns that some European governments are trying to get the text watered down.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is recommending that governments should aim to increase the collective bargaining coverage rate among women in non-standard jobs as a way to close the gender pay gap. The report says that collective bargaining can be effective through targeted raises compensating for the concentration of women in low-paid industries; by establishing gender-neutral occupational classification schemes to correct the undervaluation of female-dominated occupations; measures promoting pay transparency; and gender-neutral evaluation criteria for
The ETUC has highlighted strike action by 600000 cleaners across Italy as part of its campaign to pressure the European Commission not to delay publishing draft proposals on pay transparency. The cleaners were striking over the failure of the employers in the sector to negotiate a collective agreement, seven years after the last one expired. With women dominating the low-paid cleaning workforce there is a major case to be made for action on pay equality along with proper recognition of their skills and the risks they have been taking during the current pandemic. ETUC (EN)
EPSU joined with the ETUC and other European and global trade union organisations in a strong call for action to end violence against and harassment of women. The ETUC called for laws against workplace harassment to be updated to protect women working from home against online abuse made possible by surveillance techniques being used by employers. EPSU outlined the many ways in which the pandemic has taken a heavy toll on women not only as the backbone of health and social care provision across Europe but also often facing the double burden of dealing with extra childcare while working from
The ETUC has expressed alarm about the possible delay in publishing a draft directive on pay transparency. It says that the directive will provide important measures in the fight to reduce the gender pay gap. Without such initiatives, the ETUC has calculated it will take an average of 84 years to achieve equal pay across Europe. In some countries the wait could be even longer - with women in Germany and the Czech Republic having to wait until 2021. In France, the pay gap has closed so slowly over the last 10 years - by 0.1 percentage points - that it would take 1000 years to achieve equal pay.
In an unusual move the ETUC has published its own draft equal pay directive to put pressure on the European Commission to deliver on its commitment to produce legislation to improve pay transparency. The draft includes provisions calling for a ban on pay secrecy clauses in contracts so that workers can discuss pay; requirements to release of information on job evaluation for the purpose of establishing equal pay for work of equal value; require all employers produce pay information audits and annual action plans on pay equality; and support trade unions to negotiate with employers to tackle
The ETUC is publishing examples of pay inequality from around in Europe in its campaign to put pressure on the European Commission to deliver on its promise of a pay transparency directive. The ETUC’s first examples from the manufacturing sector clearly how women are paid less even when their jobs require the same levels of skill and physical effort as those of men. The ETUC also points out that the Covid crisis has exposed the deep-rooted bias behind wages for professions dominated by women, with carers and cleaners recognised as ‘essential’ despite being amongst the lowest paid. ETUC (EN+FR)
After considerable delay the European Commission published its draft directive on pay transparency which the ETUC welcomed as having many good principles but lacking the real tools to make it work in practice. While the ETUC expects the directive to reduce secrecy on pay, it is concerned that pay audits and action plans will only apply to organisations with over 250 employees. The ETUC is also critical of the fact that the directive allows employers to define which jobs to use in comparisons of equal pay for work of equal value and refers throughout to ‘workers representatives’ instead of