Occupations in which women still predominate such as Carers and Cleaners paid less and treated as lower skilled
Taryn Trainor, Unite Regional Women’s & Equalities Officer reflected on the fact that today marks a half century since pay equality legislation came into force but that despite this average pay for women remains lower than for their male counterparts.
“The Pay Equality Act which was passed in 1970 was triggered by the Ford Sewing Machinists strike of working women in 1968 for equal pay. While it represented a historic milestone in the fight for female equality, despite the passage of half a century, it has not eliminated the gender pay gap.
“While the act sought to ensure equal pay for the same work, it did not address the wider structural disadvantage facing female workers in the labour market. Women had been traditionally paid less than male counterparts and this legacy of structural disadvantage remains in place today. Indeed the sectors in which females have historically predominated remain lower paid by comparison to more traditionally ‘male’ sectors.
“In the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, the essential role being played by female workers who overwhelmingly provide care services, for young and old, or who are cleaners is undeniable. These are far from ‘lower-skilled’ professions as some would have us believe – these professions involve very complex skills, commitment and carry huge responsibilities.
“Fifty years on from the Pay Equality Act becoming law, we need to rededicate ourselves to the task of winning genuine pay equality for women. It is vital that equality strategies including a Gender Equality Strategy and Anti-Poverty Strategy be included in recovery measures by the NI Executive. We also need to see Gender Pay Gap regulations as well as the development of a Gender Pay Gap strategy and action plan, as required by the 2016 NI Employment Act. Overall we need to start going beyond simply securing equal pay for equal work and starting to address the structural disadvantages and the gender norms which continue to reproduce inequality and mean that on average women in Northern Ireland still receive 10 percent less an hour than men”, Ms Trainor concluded.