Letter to President von der Leyen: don’t drop the ball on pay equality

Monday 11 May 2020

UNI Europa has sent a letter to European Commission President von der Leyen over concerns that progress towards the EU Pay Transparency Directive is being put on hold. Highlighting the importance of raising ambition, the letter argues for a new normal after the Covid-19 crisis, in which working women are no longer paid less for work of equal value.

Pay transparency is a crucial step to closing the gender pay gap and President von der Leyen initiated her term with strong commitments. Promisingly, von der Leyen committed that “in the first 100 days of my mandate, I will table measures to introduce binding pay-transparency measures”. Since then momentum has been building but recent revelations suggest the plans are being put on hold.

The letter further highlights the need to address the fact that many of the working women on the frontline of societies’ responses to the Covid-19 are in undervalued jobs. Cleaners, supermarket workers and care workers are among the overwhelmingly female sectors that have all been shown to be essential. Yet these jobs are too often low-paid and precarious.

The Pay Transparency Directive should be a meaningful tool to address the gender inequalities that have been worsened by the crisis. Therefore, it should include provisions that assist workers and their unions to re-evaluate pay conditions and secure increases that reflect the real value of the work.

“There has been a resounding call for a new normal after the crisis. This is precisely the right time to meaningfully tackle the rapidly increasing gender pay gap which was at a whopping 16% before the crisis. Pay transparency is crucial to shedding light on specific injustices. In this period of uncertainty, the EU can and must provide leadership by remaining steadfast in its objective and do its part to push through this vital piece of legislation.”

“Corporate lobbyists are trying to use Covid-19 as an excuse to evade responsibilities, that much is clear. In this crisis, the EU Commission would do best to put them on mute and listen to the people who are carrying us through this difficult time. We are committed to working with the Commission to see this historic legislation through,” said Oliver Roethig, Regional Secretary of UNI Europa.

“Gender pay gaps across sectors can considerably impact women’s ability to purchase necessities and in the actual context, engage in Covid-19 prevention and response efforts. Gender pay transparency is the instrument that will allow us to definitively tackle the deeply entrenched income inequalities. Throughout history, women have paid the price of crises. We need a new reality after Covid-19 where women have the status they deserve. All eyes are on the EU Commission this week, our hopes are with the institutions,” said Amel Djemail, UNI Europa Director for Equal Opportunities.

Read the letter here:

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