Covid heroes need collective bargaining to win equal pay, confirms OECD

The OECD have backed trade unions’ calls for the EU to extend collective bargaining coverage to close the gender pay gap, especially for women who worked on the frontline of the Covid crisis. 

In a new report, the OECD said “women in temporary and part-time jobs face substantial gender wage gaps”, citing the example of essential workers like carers and cleaners.  

The organisation, of which 22 EU countries are members, describes collective bargaining as a “powerful tool” to tackle the pay gap but adds:

“To better exploit the potential of collective bargaining to reduce the wage gap among non-standard workers governments should aim [to] increase the collective bargaining coverage rate among women in non-standard jobs.

“Specific attention should be paid to the case of non-standard workers in female-dominated occupations, such as the domestic work and the care work sectors. In some cases, specific legal barriers might prevent female workers in non-standard jobs in these sectors from accessing collective bargaining.”

Their recommendation comes as the European Commission consults on measures to tackle Europe’s 16% gender pay gap as part of its new gender equality strategy. 

It provides influential support for the ETUC’s call on the Commission to support collective bargaining, alongside binding gender pay transparency measures, as the best way to end the gender pay gap. 
ETUC Deputy General Secretary Esther Lynch said: 

“The undervaluing of jobs dominated by women couldn’t be clearer after the Covid crisis. Carers and cleaners were among the heroes of the crisis but are too often living in poverty because of the gender pay gap.

“The evidence provided by the OECD backs up what trade unions have been saying: collective bargaining is essential to winning fair pay for our essential workers.  

“So any action by the European Commission to tackle the gender pay gap won’t be credible unless it includes concrete steps to ensure all women workers have the right to collective bargaining.”