Gender pay gap still a problem, delegates hear

Local government conference debates measures to tackle the issue, as the pay gap and the glass ceiling still exist

A busy day at UNISON’s local government conference in Brighton got under way this morning with a big debate on the gender pay gap.

Penelope Smith (pictured) of the national women’s committee, who opened the motion called on all jobs in the sector to be advertised as “flexible,” with paid leave available for partners to take time out to care.

There needs to be action to ensure that “the best women” can progress in their career, said Ms Smith.

Janet Green from South Tyneside told delegates that she knew that “my job is not valued in financial terms.

“I’m concerned that the new legislation on the gender pay gap will do little to change the working lives of women like me.

“We need to do all we can to make sure women reach their true potential.”

Maria Porter from Sefton described herself as “one of 85% of low-paid women who do low-paid clerical work … it amazes me that only women can do this sort of work.”

She observed that the further one got away from working in a role that directly faced people, the more one got paid.

Tania Magee for the national Black members’ committee noted that the gender pay gap reflects ongoing discrimination.

Conference also heard calls for “regular pay audits” and agreed to instruct the service group executive to:

  • Use the information gathered by the Women and Local Government Commission and through the gender pay gap reporting mechanism to put pressure on employers to take action to close the gap;
  • issue guidance to branches on how to interpret and use such information;
  • continue to work with the wider union in campaigning for action by the government.