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Saturday, 8 July, 2000, 06:45 GMT 07:45 UK
30-year wait for equal pay
Mother with two children
Having a family instead of a career can be costly
Women will have to wait at least another 30 years before they can be expected to get paid the same as their male colleagues, a survey has claimed.

The Labour Research Department magazine Bargaining Report, which is part of the way through a long-running survey of equal pay claims, said moves to redress the imbalance are slow.

Julie Mellor, chairman of the Equal Opportunities Commission, estimates it "could take another 30 years" to close the 20% gap between women's and men's average earnings.

A spokesman for Bargaining Report said: "This year again the evidence shows that the legal route to equal pay is still moving very slowly, with long delays and often poor outcomes for the women workers concerned."

It is 30 years since the passing of the Equal Pay Act 1970.

Pay settlements

On the positive side, the report suggested it has been a bumper year for the settlements which were reached.

A negotiated settlement on behalf of ancillary staff at Newcastle General Hospital is said, by the general union GMB, to be worth about 1m for its members.

Bargaining Report has found that workers are much more likely to win their claim through a negotiated settlement than fighting their case at a tribunal.

One case in the last year was that of Preston v Wolverhampton Healthcare heard by the European Court of Justice.

It involved the claims of more than 60,000 women workers who were concerned they had been denied backdated pension rights as part-time workers.

The European Court of Justice ruled the women were entitled to backdate their pension to 1976.

According to the government's own figures, a woman is likely to be paid about a quarter of 1m less than a man during her working life.

If she has children she loses out even more - by an estimated 381,000.

Although the Government has said that it will examine the procedures for achieving equal pay, as yet there is no new initiative to address the disparity.


Talking PointTALKING POINT
Female forfeit
Is it fair that women earn less?
See also:

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