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Closing gender pay gap requires tougher sanctions and end to austerity


24 May 2012


Social Europe & Jobs

"Women earn 16.4% less than men and the gender pay gap is getting worse despite legislation at national and international level" Portuguese GUE/NGL MEP Inês Zuber told MEPs today in a debate on equal pay.

Zuber pointed to collective bargaining rights as one of the best ways to protect women from wage discrimination and regretted that such rights do not feature more prominently in current proposals to tackle pay inequality. "Sanctions on employers who do not comply with the principle of equal pay must be tougher than at present", she said, criticising the austerity policies that are destroying jobs and leading to huge pressure on workers.

GUE/NGL President Gabi Zimmer lashed out at the statistics used by the Commission on the subject, saying a slight reduction in the gender pay gap had been achieved through statistical changes in different member states and incomparable figures. "There will be no equal pay in the future if the causes of inequality persist" she said, highlighting labour market discrimination and the lack of childcare as key issues to be tackled.

Swedish MEP Mikael Gustafsson said with an extended public sector - more elderly care, more childcare, parental leave - women would be more easily established in the labour market with the same chances to get full-time work as men. "Shared parental leave is another important measure, because we know that women stay home with children to a much greater extent than men" he added.

"Over 20% of women face poverty in retirement" Dutch MEP Kartika Liotard said, focusing on the impact of the gender pay gap on pensions. "Equal pay for men and women must also extend to pensions; we need to ensure fair living standards for all, men and women, young and old."