Equal pay battle passes first hurdle

THE call for equal pay took a step forward as a Yorkshire MP won a parliamentary battle.

Gemma Arterton (centre) with original Dagenham women strikers (front row left to right) Gwen Davis, Eileen Pullen, Vera Sime and Sheila Douglass, and cast of the musical Made in Dagenham during a photocall with original Dagenham ladies outside the Houses of Parliament

Rotherham MP Sarah Champion was backed by Made In Dagenham stage show celebrities hours before seeing her Bill for pay transparency pass its first hurdle.

Campaigners outside Parliament included stage star Gemma Arterton, who said “any man worth their soul” should be supporting an equal pay campaign outside Parliament today.

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Former Bond girl Arterton is starring in the West End musical adaptation of the story of the female workers at Ford’s Dagenham plant who went on strike over equal pay in 1968.

She joined the original Dagenham workers and politicians at a rally timed to coincide with a Labour bid to force big firms to publish the difference in pay between male and female employees.

Veterans of the Dagenham protest said they were not surprised that women are still not getting equal pay, “because men are too powerful”. They added that more women should be in Parliament and more women like former Labour politician Barbara Castle were needed.

Ms Champion said the Government had failed to address the issue and insisted that publishing the information would place a responsibility on employers to reduce the gender pay gap.

She said: “Pay transparency will push companies to focus on the reasons why the pay gap still exists.

“This isn’t about naming and shaming, about telling companies what to do or micromanaging them, it’s simply about changing the emphasis.”

“It’s a simple ask and we know this because some of the employers, although too few, do it already.”

Ms Champion’s Bill may though struggle to move on before the General Election, with pressure now on the Government to find time to move the Bill on.