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13 March 2002

Equal pay now firmly on union agenda
Recent campaigns by the Equal Opportunities Commission, trade unions and the government have put closing the gender pay gap firmly on the negotiating agenda. Despite the government's unwillingness to impose a statutory duty on employers to carry out equal pay reviews, there is now considerable impetus to get employers to review their pay systems.

Many unions are conducting their own equal pay campaigns to raise awareness of the gender pay gap among members and to work with employers to win fair pay in the workplace. All this makes it an ideal time for union reps to be raising the issue of equal pay with employers, and to see some real progress towards closing the persistent gender pay gap.

As delegates meet in Eastbourne for the 2002 TUC Women's Conference, where equal pay will be a major subject for debate, the Labour Research Department (LRD) publishes Winning equal pay - a trade unionist's guide. This latest guide in the popular LRD booklets series provides up-to-date advice on carrying out an equal pay review, and offers other suggestions for negotiating improvements to the pay and conditions of women workers.

Women full-time workers still earn only 82% of male average hourly earnings, and for part-time women the situation has hardly changed in 30 years, still only earning 59% of male full-time earnings. A number of factors contribute to the gender pay gap, including the segregation of women into lower paid occupations, women's caring responsibilities and discrimination in pay systems.

LRD's latest booklet describes practical measures that union reps can take to address all these causes of unequal pay for women.

Trade unions have won substantial amounts of money for women in equal pay cases since the introduction of the Equal Pay Act in 1970. Winning equal pay contains comprehensive advice on taking an equal pay case, using examples from case law. Unions have also found that initiating an equal pay case can be a way to get the employer to negotiate over changes in pay systems to win fair pay for women.

Notes to editors:

1. Winning equal pay - a trade unionist's guide is published by the Labour Research Department, 78 Blackfriars Road, London SE1 8HF, price ?3.70 or ?10 for employers/commercial organisations. LRD booklets are also available on subscription at an annual cost of ?28.50 (?72.75 for employers/ commercial organisations). LRD publishes 10-11 booklets each year.

2. The Labour Research Department is an independent trade union and labour movement organisation founded 90 years ago. More than 1,800 trade union organisations, including 55 national unions, representing 99% of total TUC membership, are affiliated.

3. For press enquiries on this booklet contact Tessa Wright (020 7902 9817). To order copies of the booklet telephone 020 7928 3649.

4. Full information about all of LRD's services and publications is available on the recently redesigned LRD website at www.lrd.org.uk.

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