Saturday, 31 October 2009

Three people a minute join Brighton Green Party campaign for fair pay for women

Yesterday I joined forces with five of the city's Green Party councillors and party leader Caroline Lucas to tell Brighton rail users about the reality of low pay for women - and ask them to back our call for a change in the law.

In just 45 minutes almost 150 people signed our petition calling on parliament to tighten rules in the Equality Bill currently before it - that's about three people every minute.

We gave out both some food for thought: biscuits and cakes with a 17% ‘bite’ taken out to represent how much less women are paid than men - and information about the Green Party and our equalities campaigns.

Almost 40 years after the Equal Pay Act, women working full time across the UK now earn an average 17 per cent less per hour than men working full time. Over the course of the year, this equates to women receiving their last pay cheque on October 30th – while men are paid all year round.

This remarkable calculation has led Unison and the Fawcett Society to declare October 30th to be 'Equal Pay Day'.

They are calling for a change in the law to end this gender-based pay gap once and for all.

The truth is that despite the many laws and regulations in place to ensure equality in the workplace, too many women are still getting a raw deal.

As Caroline said:

"Greens believe the Bill must be amended to include measures such as mandatory pay audits comparing earnings between men and women and legal changes to make it much easier for women to take equal pay cases to court.”

Cllr Vicky Wakefield Jarrett, the Green’s spokesperson on Equalities, said:

“Making sure women are fairly rewarded for the work they do is about more than fair pay, it’s about building a society where gender doesn’t ever act as a barrier or a hindrance. Greens believe everyone should be treated with respect and value, regardless of their gender.”

“Equal pay for work of equal value must be more than a theoretical legal right, it must be a reality. While many employers - including Brighton & Hove City Council - have taken steps to ensure women are rewarded fairly, too many others have failed to take action.

“The Equality bill poses a great opportunity to ensure every employer takes action to end the gender pay gap.”

The response was fantastic (even the Network Rail manager who moved us on did so with a smile): it seemed as though everyone we asked was prepared to back the campaign for equal pay. Its clear there’s huge public support out there for a change in law to ensure women get a fair deal.

Too many women are being paid too little for hard work, and it’s high time the Government did something about it. The sheer number of people prepared to stop and sign our petition shows just how much demand for action there is.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for taking up the issue of equal pay.Good to see it in the Argus too.

    I am one of hundreds of Brighton and Hove City Council employees currently involved in industrial tribunals because they are NOT paying up on their talk of equalities.
    Also,after years of trade unionists fighting for equal pay in the hope that women's pay would be raised,public sector employers up and down the country are using "equal pay" as an excuse to cut the pay of binmen in Brighton,Leeds(where their strike is in its 2nd month),nursery nurses in Devon and Portsmouth and elsewhere.
    I welcome your stance on equal pay and I wonder what else the Greens in Brighton can do to help the 3 groups of low paid workers currently embarking on strike action against pay or job cut.
    Unison has organised a rally at the Brighthelm on 17th November with representatives from the post,bins and Brighton Housing Trust strikes.Please publicise this - I've sent a flyer via e-mail to all your councillors.
    I don't know how many people read this blog,but would it be possible to run a story on this meeting.Its set to be one of the most exciting trade union meetings for years,and will also be a good opportunity to link resistance to pay cuts with the fact that Brighton has a chance of getting a passionate left of Labour MP.
    The meeting will provide plenty of opportunities for informal networking too.