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Equal Pay Day 2019: Usdaw calls for a £10 an hour minimum wage to help close the gender pay gap - only Labour will deliver

Date: 14 November 2019 Shopworkers’ trade union leader Paddy Lillis is calling for action to close the gender pay gap on ‘Equal Pay Day 2019’, Thursday 14 November, which marks the day that women will effectively work for free until the end of the year because of the gender pay gap.
Data compiled by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that the average gender pay gap for full-time work stands at 13.1% in the UK. According to the Fawcett Society, it would take 60 years for that gulf to be bridged if the current improvement rate overseen by the Tory-led Government continues.
 
Labour has today promised to close the gap in in 10 years by 2030. The party's pledges include:
  • Introducing a £10 an hour minimum wage.
  • Creating a workers' protection agency with powers to fine organisations that fail to report and act on their gender pay gap.
  • Require all employers with more than 250 employees (50 in 2021) to obtain government certification on gender equality - or face further auditing and fines. The threshold would be lowered to businesses with 50-plus staff by the end of 2020.
  • The details of the gender pay gap fine would be "open to consultation"
  • but the party highlighted a similar scheme in Iceland where companies, depending on size and revenue, can face penalties of up to GBP355 per day.
  • Making gender equality certificates a necessity for companies bidding for public sector contracts.
  • Strengthening protections against unfair dismissal and redundancies, with extra rights for pregnant women.
  • Rolling out collective bargaining to raise the floor on pay across entire sectors.
  • Introducing national minimum-level pay scales in low-paid sectors with overwhelmingly female workforces, such as childcare and school support staff.
  • Applying pay ratios to private companies and enforce maximum pay ratios of 20:1 in the public sector.
  • Requiring large employers to introduce a menopause workplace policy to break the "associated stigma".
Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “Low paid and insecure work is a growing problem, which is holding back economic growth and affecting the well-being of the workforce. This is at its most stark with women workers.
 
“Our research reveals that it remains a major issue for women in low paid sectors like retail who are clearly not progressing up pay scales at the same rate as male colleagues. Only 37% of workers earning over £10 per hour are women, so our call for a minimum wage of over £10 per hour, which would be delivered if Labour is elected, helps address the gender pay gap for low-paid women workers.
 
“The ability to balance work and caring responsibilities, along with enough hours to make a living weekly wage are significant challenges for many low-paid women workers. 70% of workers contracted to 16 hours or less are women, so we are calling for a minimum contract of 16 hours for those who want it and a right to a contract that reflects the normal hours worked, with a ban on zero-hours contracts.
 
“Given the current slow pace of change, without significant action on pay, it could take 60 years to reach pay parity between men and women. It is time for better pay and that means it is time for a Labour Government.”
 
Notes for editors:
 
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fifth biggest and the fastest growing trade union with over 410,000 members. Membership has increased by more than one-third over the last couple of decades. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.
 
Fawcett Society – Equal Pay Day: www.fawcettsociety.org.uk/equal-pay-day
 
Usdaw’s ‘Time for Better Pay’ campaign tackles the causes of in-work poverty and seeks to develop an economy where work pays. The campaign calls for:
  • At least £10 per hour minimum wage for all workers.
  • Minimum contract of 16 hours per week for all employees who want it.
  • The right to a contract based on an individual’s normal hours of work.
  • A ban on zero hour contracts.
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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