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Equal pay ‘still a myth’ after 30 years


In the 30 years since the Equal Pay Act came into force, we seem to have made little progress towards the reality. Women constitute 45 per cent of the workforce, yet receive only 30 per cent of all earned income in the UK. Men still earn 20 per cent more than women in full time jobs, and the gap widens to 40 percent for part-timers.

Yesterday (25 May) Chancellor Gordon Brown promised to speed up the employment tribunal processes, as a move towards ending the pay differential. At present tribunals can take years to hear such cases.

Speaking at a TUC-organised conference to celebrate equal pay legislation, he said "We have to rededicate ourselves to breaking down barriers". Baroness (Barbara) Castle, who spearheaded the introduction of the EPA, agreed that the key to ensuring true equality was to make it both cheap and easy to bring tribunal cases. But Julie Mellor, chair of the Equal Opportunities Commission, said it could take up to 30 years to close the gap. Companies should be legally obliged to audit and monitor their wage and salary patterns.


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