Decrying the persistent and increasing gap in pay between men and women, Dublin MEP Nessa Childers endorsed a European Parliament position demanding a set of concrete legal and policy actions to address unequal pay.
Speaking from Strasbourg today after the vote on a position which included specific proposals, such as the exclusion of from EU calls for tender of listed businesses who to address the gender pay gap, Ms. Childers said:
“This is an aspiration as old as the European Community itself, yet the persistence of a significant gender pay gap flies in the face of EU legislation implementing that is decades old.
“Equal pay for equal work was enshrined in the founding treaties over 60 years ago, and an equal pay directive was put in place in 1975, and recast a decade ago.
“The figures speak for themselves as to the level of importance member states have given to implementation. We have an average pay gap of 16% between men and women, with Ireland faring just slightly less badly, at over 14%.
“This is not just a matter of principle, equality and elementary justice. This baseless pay discrimination between men and women for the same kind of work entails compounded losses in income and pension rights over a woman’s contributory lifetime.
“And that is without counting the fact that there will be less of a contributory life to count for it, when you account for the increased periods women spend out of the work or in part-time work performing unpaid work as mothers, carers for other dependent relatives or housework.
“These gaps also hamper women’s upward career and income progression, in tandem with a culture that thickens the so called “glass ceiling”.
“At best, this represents a blatant, unjustified and mounting loss of income compared with male colleagues but, for the least advantaged women, it means a higher risk of poverty and propensity to fall ill due to the unrecognised, unremunerated and overly female forms of work in informal care and at home.
“Member State governments are simply failing to apply the law. We want it to include sanctions, and to see the Commission treating this with a modicum of the seriousness we see invested into other policy areas, say, anti-trust law.