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Issue Date:- 17 March 2009


“WOMEN should not be expected to pay the price for earnings injustice” said UNISON, the UK’s largest public service union with almost 1m women in membership.

Calling for radical changes to the outdated 1975 Equal Act, Bronwyn McKenna, UNISON Director of Organising and Membership said:- “Employers are profiting from pay inequality and using the recession as an excuse to perpetuate discrimination. No one would tolerate such sustained discrimination against black workers – it is intolerable that women are singled out for unequal pay in the work place. The Equality and Human Rights Commission must take a tighter grip on the issue and end the gender pay gap once and for all.”

UNISON has been campaigning for many years for equal pay and currently has 45,000 legal claims outstanding on behalf of its women members.

The union wants the law changed to include:-

Mandatory equal pay audits – many women, particularly those in the private sector, may not be aware that they face discrimination because employers keep pay secret. Unless employers are open about their pay systems, the gender pay gap will never be narrowed.

Named comparator – bring UK law into line with European law. In the UK women have to identify an actual comparator in the same employment, unlike in the EU. Gender segregation and outsourcing mean that it is difficult for many women to find a comparator in their workplace as domestic law dictates.

Representative Actions – Trade unions should be able to bring representative actions to challenge pay discrimination as a more efficient means of handling employment tribunal claims.

Statutory Equality Representatives – with paid time off to identify inequalities could, under strengthened laws, benefit all parties – government, employer and the workforce. Such representatives, properly trained, could lead to earlier resolution. 


SPEAKING ahead of the Low Pay Commission’s meeting held on Thursday, 19 March 2009, the leader of UNISON, the UK’s largest public sector trade union, is calling for an increase to the minimum wage. The union is urging the commission to resist the demands of big business to freeze the national minimum wage. It ought to help low paid families and young people through the recession.

UNISON General Secretary, Dave Prentis said:- “Fairness should be fundamental as the impact of the recession hits home. The Government has stepped in and bailed out the bankers who got us into this mess. But people at the bottom of the ladder – those working on the minimum wage - also need a helping hand to cope.

The most recent inflation figures showed that the cost of food, electricity and gas is still running high. Low paid people spend a greater proportion of their money on these day-to-day essentials, so they will be hit hardest by price rises. It would be madness to push these vulnerable workers further into the red by recommending a freeze to the national minimum wage.”

UNISON has called on the Low Pay Commission to increase the minimum wage rate to £7.45 by October 2010. The union also wants the “development rate” of the minimum wage to be scrapped as it discriminates against young people due to their age. They should be paid the going rate for the job.

Practice Makes Perfect ~NEW VENUE & DAY~

THE voluntary group Practice Makes Perfect, who teach Sign Language and Communication Skills to adults will continue to hold the Mondays at the Marian Centre, Bath Street North. Southport from 6pm till 8pm, but as from 3 April 2009 they will also be based at the Joint Learning Centre Yellow House Lane. (by Kwikfit Eastbank Street Southport) every Friday afternoon from 1:30pm to 3pm.. The Thursday's sessions at the Southport Arts Centre have now been Cancelled. The group wants to stress
that new learners welcome at all the sessions... To find out more, please contact the group leader Maureen on 01704 546 626.

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