Anneliese Dodds MEP is concerned that the gender pay gap in the South East of England is worse than the UK’s national average.
Due to the current gender pay gap worldwide, women effectively stop earning relative to men’s earnings on a designated day, and effectively work for free. This is called Equal Pay Day.
In the UK in 2016, the national Equal Pay Day is on the 10th of November, based on the UK’s average gender pay gap of 13.9%. However, if this day was arranged regionally, the South East Equal Pay Day would be on the 31st of October, reflecting the regional 16.8% gender pay gap.
This is, unfortunately, a problem not only confined to the United Kingdom. Across all 27 countries of the European Union, there is an average pay gap of 16.7%. There is a myriad of reasons why there is still a gender pay gap. For women, taking time off to have children seems to, sadly, hinder their career progression. When women return to the workplace after having time off, it is all too often the case that their male colleagues have received pay rises and promotions, with which women cannot catch up. There is also a divided labour market, despite 60% of the EU’s university graduates being female, with 80% of those working in the low paid care and leisure sector identifying as a woman. In some workplaces, there is still discrimination against women, with the so-called ‘glass ceiling’ hindering their career progression. This is especially worrying when analysing the profiles of various CEOs of big companies, with less than 4% being led by women.
Anneliese Dodds MEP stated: ‘We have come a long way since 1968 and the first equal pay walk-out staged by the Ford car machinists. However, we have not come far enough. Whilst the pay gap is closing slowly, the UK’s pay gap still currently sits at 13.9%. Worse still, it has been calculated that regionally, the South East’s pay gap is one of the worst in the UK, sitting at 16.8%. The gender pay gap is only closing by 0.2% per year. At this current rate, this will mean women will only achieve pay parity in 2063 - 47 years from now.
I was hugely disheartened to read the conclusions of the TUC’s recent report, which revealed that the pay penalty women receive over the course of their careers peaks in their 50s, with, on average, women earning £85,040 less than their male peers over the course of this decade. Inevitably, this affects the amount of money women are entitled to receive as a pension payment at the end of their careers, creating, on average, a 39% pension gap across the European Union.
Last year, I was very disappointed to see Tory MEPs vote against a European Parliamentary report calling for the law on equal opportunities in employment to be updated and strengthened across the EU, with targets to combat the gender pay gap. Little has improved since 2015, with the Tories’ austerity politics and cuts disproportionately hitting women the hardest.
Alongside my Labour colleagues, I am determined to continue pressing for equal pay for work of equal value, and support the implementation of policies to give support to women. Considering yesterday’s American election result, this message is needed more than ever before.’