by RenÃ© Lavanchy
Compulsory pay audits are essential to ending the gender pay gap, conference speakers told Harriet Harman, Secretary of State for equalities, this week.
The message – which may force the Government to start talking about the subject – came as a motion to â€œend the scandal of the continuing pay gap between women and menâ€ went to the National Policy Forum.
And they also called on the Government to require companies to audit pay.
Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, said: â€œWe need respect for public services and that means start with equal pay. Let’s give the money to the women who deserve it and not to the well-paid lawyers growing fat on the backs of our members.â€
That last request reflected Unison’s resolution demanding that trade unions be allowed to bring â€œclass actionsâ€ on behalf of large numbers of workers to tribunals.
Thirty years after the Equal Pay Act took effect, Ms Harman said, full-time women workers on average earn 12 per cent less â€“ and part-timers 40 per cent less â€“ than full-time males.
Compulsory audits were promised by Ms Harman during the Labour deputy leadership campaign, but she did not mention them at all during Monday’s debate.
Rachel Eden, of Oxford West and Abingdon CLP, said that pay audits were needed precisely because most employers were not trying to discriminate: â€œThey don’t think they’re not [paying equally]. They don’t even think they need to check. Employers want to be fair.â€