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Wednesday, 6 March, 2002, 06:40 GMT
Action urged on 'shocking' pay gaps
Woman working in an office
Female civil servants earn 28% less than males
Government and business have been urged to tackle "shocking" pay gaps of more than a quarter between male and female civil servants, and of 19% in the private sector.

The Public and Commercial Services union analysed government figures on pay in the civil service and found it was failing to tackle huge inequality.

About half the UK's 500,000 civil servants are women, but the union found their pay is on average 28% lower than men's.

Female worker
Women are paid an average 19% less than men
Women were also twice as likely to be low earners, on less than 15,000 a year, the union said.

Pat Campbell, the union's head of equalities, said civil service departments should carry out equality audits to identify unfair differences in pay.

A spokesman for the TUC said: "This is the government's opportunity to lead from the front and show companies that the voluntary approach can work."

A spokesman for Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt said the minister took the issue of equal pay very seriously.

Ms Hewitt had written to government departments asking them to carry out a pay audit within the next year and to prepare an action plan to close any pay gaps, the spokesman said.

Audit request shock

At the same time, private sector firms have been accused of being complacent about women's pay.

The UK's second biggest union, Amicus, said it was "shocking" that most companies refused to review their wage rates despite an average pay gap of 19%.

The union, formed from a merger between the MSF and the AEEU, wrote to more than 6,000 employers at the end of last year asking them to carry out pay audits.

It said only 50 companies agreed to the request, with 99% refusing to do so, or failing to respond.

The union now plans to hold special conferences around the country offering to help women take tribunal cases against any employers who pay them less than men.

The union said compulsory audits should be introduced to help achieve equal pay rates.

An official at the DTI said the results of the Amicus research had to be questioned because it was not known how many of the companies surveyed recognised the union.

See also:

09 Feb 02 | Business
New union demands equal pay
27 Dec 01 | UK
TUC acts on pay gap
05 Dec 01 | Business
Bid to bridge gender pay gap
21 Nov 01 | Wales
Women still face pay disparity
17 Oct 01 | Business
Ministers urged to boost women's pay
27 Aug 01 | Business
Top firms review women's pay
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