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Thursday, 25 May, 2000, 05:01 GMT 06:01 UK
'Long delay for equal pay'
Office workers
Equal pay rates for women are unlikely to arrive quickly
It could take 30 years to close the pay gap between men and women despite decades of equal pay laws, a campaigners are warning.

Studies show that women are still earning 20% less on average than male colleagues, although equal pay legislation was introduced 30 years ago.

And the situation for part-time workers is even worse, with the pay gap between men and women stretching to 40%.

Campaign groups and unions are urging the government and employers to quicken the pace of change.


It is hard to believe that women are still so consistently undervalued in the workplace

Julie Mellor, EOC chairwoman

"After 30 years of equal pay legislation it is hard to believe that women are still so consistently undervalued in the workplace," said Julie Mellor, chairwoman of the Equal Opportunities Commission.

The EOC believes companies should be forced to carry out pay audits unless they monitor their wage systems.

Also calling for reforms of equal pay and sex discrimination laws is the TUC, which is holding a London conference to celebrate the anniversary of the Equal Pay Act.

Women undervalued

"Women workers have put up with poor pay because of institutionalised discrimination and the fact that society has traditionally undervalued the kind of work they do," said general secretary John Monks.

The GMB general trade union plans to launch the latest in a series of equal pay claims against the NHS, on behalf of female hospital catering workers from Barnsley.

Female workers earn at least 65 a week less than men doing work of the same skill level, the union argues.

National officer Sharon Holder said: "Nothing has changed. These women are being treated as the Cinderellas of the health service."

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See also:

21 Feb 00 | Business
Women way behind on pay
27 Oct 99 | The Economy
Gender pay gap fight launched
21 Feb 00 | UK
Women's workplace wars
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