Dagenham behind equal pay Bill

AN EQUAL pay battle comes to a head today with an attempt to force firms to reveal the pay gap between their male and female employees.

Rotherham MP Sarah Champion.
Rotherham MP Sarah Champion.

Unions, MPs, actors and even fashion magazine Grazia will attend a rally of Parliament in
support of a Bill by Yorkshire
MP Sarah Champion which would force through fair pay changes.

As a result of the gender pay gap, Labour will today say that women earn as much as £209,976 less over their lifetime than men.

In Ms Champion’s Rotherham seat there are, the MP said, women who get paid 77p for every £1 that a man earns in the same job.

Her Bill, if voted through Parliament today, would mean any firm employing more than 250 staff would have to publish figures setting out the pay gap. The Bill would not reveal the pay packets of individual employees.

The tabling of the Bill will see a Westminster rally with politicians joined by the stars of the Made in Dagenham musical and, Gwen Davis, Sheila Douglass and Vera Sime, some of the original Dagenham pay protesters.

Ms Champion’s Bill would see the law changed from a voluntary publication basis to one enshrined in law, something the Liberal Democrats have previously indicated their support for.

She said: “While I am delighted to bring this Bill to Parliament and stand up for equal pay for women, I am so frustrated that equal pay still doesn’t happen automatically.

“We have tried a voluntary approach for companies taking action on this important issue, but only five companies signed up.”

“Almost 50 years ago the women of Ford Dagenham went on strike for equal pay. The Equal Pay Act was passed in 1970.

“It is nonsensical that despite outward commitments by many governments and many companies, equal pay for men and women is still a goal rather than a reality.

“We owe it to women everywhere to make sure that they aren’t paid less just because of their gender.

“We must give women the recognition in the workplace that they deserve, and if that means we have to legislate to force companies to publish figures on the pay gap, so be it.”

Ms Champion was joined by Gloria De Piero, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities, who will lead the rally.

She said: “Women are losing out on hundreds of thousands of pounds because they still earn less than men over their lifetime. Labour has called a vote to bring about pay transparency, it’s time the Tories and Lib Dems demonstrated their commitment to delivering equal pay and vote with us.”

Last night Labour published the latest official figures showing how the pay gap develops over a woman’s working lifetime.

In her mid-20s the average female worker is paid seven per cent less than a male doing the same job. By the time she reaches her 50s that pay gap will have widened to 26 per cent, according to research based on Office for National Statistics Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings.

Women in law and finance miss out on £213,000 over a working lifetime.

In sales and customer service the loss is £124,000; women in cleaning lose almost £200,000; Women teachers lose £154,000; and women working in care lose out on £106,000.

A recent campaign by Grazia raised 10,000 signatories for action on equal pay, calling on MPs to support the vote.

The result of the vote is expected by mid-afternoon today.