Gender pay gap
The issue of the gender pay gap is one on which ETUC has been working for many years.
Tackling the gender pay gap
All ETUC gender equality action plans have prioritised the fight against the pay gap, examining the causes of the pay gap and the role trade unions can play in overcoming the problem. Some of the recommendations included actions to reduce the pay gap by tackling indirect discrimination – tackling job segregation both vertical and horizontal, revising job classification and job evaluation systems ensuring their gender neutrality.
Other strategies focused on raising low pay, which is easier in centralised collective bargaining systems or companies in sectors which are economically stronger than those where flexible terms of employment are prevalent. Strategies such as these are particularly important in female-dominated sectors. Also relevant are pay audits or equality audits, which are sometimes seen as an effective response to the trend towards wage individualisation.
Collective bargaining - an effective option
The legal route is also an option, although often used as a last resort due to the lengthy and costly procedures and the high stress levels for the workers involved. A clear winner, however, in terms of being a highly effective way to tackle pay issues, including the pay gap between women and men, is through collective bargaining. This means ensuring that:
- women are involved in the process from start to finish;
- negotiators are trained on equal pay;
- data on the pay gap is made available;
- responsibility for the issue is taken up by the collective bargainers;
- the issue is mainstreamed into wage bargaining discussions.
See below an outline of references to various materials realised by ETUC, its affiliated members, as well as European institutions, on the specific issue of the gender pay gap.
ETUC Resolution ‘Reducing the gender pay gap’, June 2008
ETUC Position on the EC Communication ‘Tackling the pay gap between men and women’, June 2008
Framework of actions on gender equality, March 2005
ETUC gender equality plan, May 2003
ETUC member organisations
European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU), Discussion on gender pay gap - Outline of EPSU work (193Kb PDF), April 2008
General Labour Federation of Belgium (FGTB), Campagne equal pay day - Impact et expériences (958Kb PDF), April 2008 (disponible en français seulement)
Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO-N), Gender and pay - Facts , analyses and measure to promote equal pay (200Kb PDF), Summary, 2008
Swedish Trade Union Confederation (LO-S), Negotiations on gender pay gap - Swedish example (62Kb PDF), April 2008
Trade Union Congress (TUC), Closing the gender pay gap: an update report (83Kb PDF), April 2008
TUC, Closing the gender pay gap (446Kb PDF), 2007
European Commission, Report on equality between women and men 2008, Luxembourg, Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, 2008
European Commission, Tackling the pay gap between men and women, COM (2007) 424 final, Brussels, July 2007
European Commission, The gender pay gap - Origins and policy responses. A comparative review of 30 European countries, Luxembourg, Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, February 2007
European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound), The gender pay gap, Background paper, Dublin, Eurofound, November 2006
European Parliament, Report on equality between women and men, Brussels, July 2008
Eurostat, The life of women and men in Europe, Luxembourg, Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, March 2008
Advisory Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men, Opinion on the effectiveness of the current legal framework on equal pay for equal work or work of equal value in tackling the gender pay gap, August 2009
The European Commission launched on 3 March 2009 an information campaign in all EU countries about the gender pay gap. http://ec.europa.eu/equalpay