UNISON has launched its campaign to close the gender pay gap by lodging a record 33,000 equal pay claims against public sector employers. Two thirds of UNISON members are women, and the battle for equal pay has been ongoing for a number of years. Significant pay increases for thousands of low-paid women workers have been achieved but there is still a lot more to be achieved. "Equal pay is not just the wish of the trade unions," said UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis. "It is the law of the land. Yet, 30 years on, the Equal Pay Act is still seen by many employers as a take-it-or-leave-it bit of legislation. This cannot be allowed to continue. It must be implemented robustly across the UK." Funding particularly in local government, remainscritical to achieving equal and fair pay. This issue was discussed in an article in The Guardian recently and also the issue of no win no fee lawyers which poses a challenge to collective negotiations. "As a direct result of UNISON’s campaigning through the Labour Party, last September the government released £500 million to 46 local authorities to fund equal pay," Dave Prentis said. "But more is needed. In addition, the government must change the law, to cut the time it takes for legal action. At the moment, it takes years, is costly and, in the meantime, women remain underpaid.”
The pay gap between men and women is around 17%, according to official figures. This means that women are losing out on a staggering £4,000 a year, based on an average salary of £23,600.
A major problem