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Time to eliminate the gender wage gap in Europe

Following a plenary vote today which saw a majority of MEPs give their thumbs up to intensifying efforts to reduce pay discrimination, GUE/NGL MEPs highlighted the urgent need for better legislation in this area.

The motion for a resolution, tabled by the Parliament's Women's Rights and Gender Equality Committee (FEMM), calls on the Commission and the member states to up the ante when it comes to real efforts to eliminate the gender pay gap problem by revising existing inadequate legislation.

GUE/NGL MEP Inês Zuber, the Group's shadow rapporteur on the file, said: “Pay discrimination is something we definitely need to do more on. The member states must have appropriate legislation, as well as the means to enforce it. As things stand today, employers continue to find ways to get round the law. By 'feminising' particular sectors of industry they are paying lower wages, although the tasks undertaken by these women are equivalent to those carried out by men.

Zuber added: “Troika measures run very much counter to the principle of wage equality, as they want to promote more flexible working conditions and contracts. They want people to have individual contracts, meaning women are left with no protection.”

GUE/NGL MEP Mikael Gustafsson, FEMM Committee Chair, commented: “70% of Europeans consider the gap in pay between men and women as a serious problem. Today this gap is about 16% and of course that affects women in all areas of their lives: there is no 16% discount in shops or when paying rent, and this 16% difference is also felt when it comes to refunds in the health and pension system.

“This discrimination is a breach of fundamental rights. Today responsibility lies with member states but the Commission can put forward new proposals. It is a question of the power structures in our society. Women are discriminated against simply for the very reason that they are women.

“We need political reforms that aim to remove this wage discrimination so that we have a more equal and integrated labour market. We need the possibility of company sanctions for wage discrimination; pay shouldn't be a private matter, anyone who is being discriminated against should be able to seek legal help.

“The Commission said it would release a report on this issue in the first half of 2013, and now we are in September and we are still waiting, the question now is will the Commission take action on this?”

GUE/NGL Press Contacts:
Emily Macintosh +32 470 85 05 08
David Lundy +32 470 85 05 09
Gay Kavanagh +32 473 84 23 20
European United Left / Nordic Green Left
European Parliamentary Group