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50 years on from the Equal Pay Act and there is still much more to do on closing the gender pay gap says Usdaw

Date: 29 May 2020 Retail trade union Usdaw is marking today’s 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act 1970 with a call for a new deal for workers including action on closing the gender pay gap. Usdaw has launched a ‘New Deal for Workers’ campaign, which seeks better pay and rights, with fair treatment and equality for all workers.
The Coronavirus emergency has shown that millions of low-paid and undervalued workers have stepped up in the most difficult of circumstances to keep our country going. Workers in retail, manufacturing, distribution and home delivery have been working around the clock, keeping food on our tables and medicines in our cupboards. They have adapted to huge change in an extremely short time, working under intense pressure and providing a lifeline to our communities. It is time for the Government, employers and the public to recognise that these workers have been undervalued for too long. Usdaw is calling for a new deal that includes:
  • Fair treatment and equality for all workers, including equal pay.
  • £10 minimum wage for all workers, ending rip-off youth rates and providing a living wage.
  • Minimum contract of 16 hours per week, for everyone who wants it, that reflects normal hours worked and a ban on zero-hour contracts.
  • Better sick pay for all workers, from day one, at average earnings.
  • Protection at work – respect for shopworkers, abuse is not a part of the job.
  • A proper social security system, Universal Credit does not provide the necessary safety net.
  • Job security, with day one employment rights for unfair dismissal and redundancy.
  • A voice at work, stop rogue employers from refusing to engage with trade unions.
Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “50 years ago today ground-breaking legislation for equal pay came into force, after a brave campaign by women trade unionists was heard and acted on by the then Labour Government.  Yet today low paid and insecure work is a growing problem and that 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 helps address the gender pay gap for
low-paid women workers.
 
“Being able 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.
 
“The current pace of change is slow, without significant action it could take 60 years to reach pay parity between men and women. This crisis has shown that the work done by low paid workers, most of them women, is indispensable to our economy and society. These essential roles have been undervalued and underpaid for too long.  Women on low pay and poverty pay need equal pay and they need decent pay.  It is time for a new deal for women workers.”
 
Notes for editors:
 
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fifth biggest trade union with over 400,000 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.
 
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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The official website of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers