Women hit hardest

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2012 Local Government Service Group Conference
23 February 2012

Conference notes that, in addition to the pay freeze, there is a hidden impact of this government’s agenda on public sector wages on women working in local government.

75% of workers in local government are women, and more than half of those work part-time. Recent research by the Policy Institute has found that in the third year of a pay freeze and with high inflation, they have seen the real value of their wages cut by 13% – taking them back to pay levels of the early 90s.

Working mothers are particularly hard hit, as the freeze and cap on child benefit, changes to working tax credits and housing benefits will impact harder on women than men – with an estimated 32,000 women leaving the workforce in 2010/11 because it was no longer financially viable to work and meet childcare costs.

Now workers in local government are faced with the possibility of regionalised pay, a politically motivated move which will damage the poorest communities further.

Further, as the public sector pay gap is historically smaller than that in the private sector, regionalisation and the inevitable reduction in women’s wages will cause the gender pay gap to widen further. With women’s unemployment increasing dramatically it is almost certain that it is the work traditionally undertaken by women – the cleaning, catering, clerical and caring jobs – which will be most severely affected by market forces and pay rates driven down if regionalised pay goes ahead.

Conference therefore calls upon the Service Group Executive to :

1)Oppose the introduction of regional bargaining;

2)continue to campaign and lobby to protect women local government workers’ terms and conditions of employment;

3)Highlight the implications of regionalised pay for women members in particular.