International Women’s Day – She needs a pay rise

Tuesday 7 March 2017

A pay rise for women would narrow the gender pay gap, and boost the economy by giving millions of working women more money to spend.

UNI Europa Regional Secretary Oliver Roethig said: ‘UNI Europa is a 100% committed to closing the gender pay gap – and we are doing our share with the campaign, to increase women representation in all UNI structures and decision making bodies by 40%.

We also put a particular focus on exploring the consequences of digitalisation which hits service sector workers particularly hard, especially those in the mid-skill and mid-salary range, and a lot of whom are women. For us, the key to eliminating the gender pay gap (and any pay gap for that matter) lies in collective bargaining and trade union membership, with many studies showing that union members are better paid than those workers who are not organised.’

A pay rise that narrows and ultimately eliminate the pay gap between women and men could be achieved by

  • Raising wages for cleaners, catering staff, carers, cashiers and clerks – jobs where the majority of workers are women.  Women make up over 80% of the workforce workers in sectors such as personal care workers, cleaners and helpers, general and keyboard clerks, and health associate professionals;
  • A flat rate increase in wages (as opposed to an undifferentiated % increase which maintains existing pay inequalities);
  • Job evaluations: to review the grading of jobs mainly carried out by women and upgrade them to the pay of similar jobs mainly carried out by men;
  • Pay transparency:  where pay is not collectively bargained, pay increases are not transparent and men usually negotiate higher increases than women;
  • Women joining a trade union –  the wage gap among union members is less than half of the wage gap among non-union workers.

The gender pay gap is painful and unjust” said Montserrat Mir, Confederal Secretary at the ETUC, “and carries a high human and economic cost. Unless action is taken to speed up equal pay, women will have to wait over 70 years to be paid the same as men.  Equal pay would be the greatest economic stimulus package that Europe has ever seen, and lift millions of women out of poverty.”

Lower pay also means lower pensions. By narrowing the gender pay gap, we would also help narrow the gender pension gap which condemns many women to poverty in old age.”

By joining a trade union women and men can fight for fairer pay and against the gender pay gap, collective bargaining is the best way to achieve decent pay rises and pay transparency.”

On average in Europe women earn 17 per cent less than men. One reason is that women find it harder to reconcile work and family obligations. As a result, part-time work, mini jobs and career breaks are more common for women, and have a direct impact on wages.

The ETUC has launched a campaign ‘Europe needs a pay rise’ calling for pay rises for workers across Europe, and for the closing of unjustified pay gaps including the gender pay gap.

More info

Percentage of female employees by top 30 occupations   

Best and lowest paying industries

ETUC Pay Rise campaign  #HerPayRise #OurPayRise

ETUC Study “Bargaining for Equality”