Action needed now on gender pay gap

Davena Rankin
Davena Rankin

#stuc2017 Research by the University and College Union has revealed that four Scottish universities – Aberdeen, Glasgow, St Andrews and UHI – were amongst the worst in the UK for paying women employees less than their male counterparts – with the average shortfall across the UK standing at £6,103.

STUC delegates voted to support unions campaigning over pay inequality, back the Close The Gap campaign and press the Scottish Government to take ‘concrete actions’ to close the gender pay gap.

Supporting the motion, UNISON Higher Education member Davena Rankin said: “The fight to end the gender pay gap is at its heart about the fight for workplace justice. It is about the basic right to be paid fairly for the work we do regardless of our gender.”

As the 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act approaches, it was “both disappointing and infuriating to note the sloth like speed at which the gap is closing.”

On a more positive note, Davena was proud that at UNISON’s higher education conference this year, a motion was passed calling for action end the gender pay gap by 2020. A call for action that became part of the joint pay claim submitted by EIS, GMB, UNISON, UNITE and UCU this year.

Davena added: “When presented with the claim the employers asked us – exactly what we wanted. Now call me old fashioned but I think the statement – action to end the gender pay gap by 2020 is very clear. It may not be easy but it is perfectly clear.

“There is no excuse to have a pay gap and at a UK level we have had joint working groups looking at this issue for a number of years and progress has still been painfully slow.

“Part of the problem with the current negotiating mechanism is that the employers representatives say that they can’t mandate their members to end the pay gap.

“A Scottish negotiation table, which is also part of the joint pay claim, could give us the opportunity to really tackle the pay gap away from the Tory dogma that currently dominates the UK level negotiations.

“It would give us the opportunity to review and reform the promotions criteria skewed in favour of men, we could talk about appointment policies that consistently see men appointed higher up the grade band than women – there is so much we could talk about out with the actual pay claim that could finally see real progress towards ending the gender pay gap.

Davena concluded: “We need real action on ending the pay gap not just warm words from politicians – without any substantial action from the government, trade unions and employers I fear we will still be talking about the gender pay gap at the 160th annual congress.”
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