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EDITIONS
Friday, 8 March, 2002, 14:14 GMT
Equality chiefs warn over women's pay
Woman in office
Trade unions want bosses to issue details of pay gaps in their firms
Women graduates are earning 15% less than men within five years of starting work, the Equal Opportunities Commission has found.

The pay gap facing older women is even bigger, with women graduates in their early 50s taking home 44% less than their male counterparts.


This is unlawful, it is unjust and it has no place in today's workplace

Margaret Prosser, TGWU
The EOC has warned employers to mend their ways or face "huge pressure" for tougher laws.

On average, women graduates get 37% less than men, exactly the same as the gap between male and female earnings when the Equal Pay Act was passed in 1970.

In Scotland, women's pay is so far behind men's that it could take up to 45 years - a working lifetime - to close the gap, according to a separate study of regional pay differences by the Transport & General Workers Union (TGWU).

Going cheap

More than 30 years after the Equal Pay Act, it was "staggering" that men and women were not being rewarded equally, said Margaret Prosser, TGWU Deputy General Secretary.

"This is unlawful, it is unjust and it has no place in today's workplace", she said.

The EOC has launched a joint campaign to encourage women students to question potential employers about their pay policies.

Called "Why are women graduates still going cheap?", it features posters of young women with stickers on their foreheads that read "15% off".

"If employers want to recruit the brightest and the best in future, they are going to have to be able to prove that they provide equal pay", said EOC chairwoman Julie Mellor.

'Hidden problem'

The EOC is urging employers to carry out pay audits to check the size of the pay gap in their company and make sure they are not "short-changing" women.

Going cheap poster
For 25-year old graduates, the pay gap is 15%

"We know employers don't set out to cheat women - most pay discrimination is a hidden problem," said Ms Mellor.

But employers seem to be reluctant to do pay audits - 99% of those contacted by the Amicus trade union about their firm's audit either refused or failed to reply.

The EOC has set a target for 50% of firms employing more than 500 staff to have carried out a pay survey by the end of 2003.

Appeal for progress

"The key action employers can take is to review pay. If they don't there will be huge pressure for legislation," Ms Mellor said.

The average gap between male and female pay in Britain is 18%.

The UK's Minister for Women Barbara Roche said a cultural change among employers was needed.

The UK government has launched a fair pay award for employers, which will be named after the retired left wing MP Barbara Castle, who steered the Equal Pay Act through parliament in 1970.

At that time, the average pay gap was 37%.

See also:

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