West Ham MP Lyn Brown says that women should no longer put up with the gender pay gap

PUBLISHED: 09:52 23 November 2016 | UPDATED: 09:52 23 November 2016


Back in the 1980s, my mum was a Tate and Lyle shop steward. She told me about her campaign to gain parity for women workers: equal pay for work of equal value. She felt she’d been unsuccessful and believed the work of women was continually undervalued.

Mum was right; and that was over 30 years ago. Sadly, things haven’t progressed as we expected.

November 10 marked the day beyond which women effectively stopped earning altogether, for doing same-value work as men.

Research shows that women earn 14.5 per cent less than male colleagues: 85.5p for every £1 earned by the man. In essence, a woman spends almost two months every year working for free.

This year it fell five days later than last year, which means the pay gap is closing, but progress is lamentably slow. At this rate, it’ll take 50 years to close that gap completely. That’s not good enough.

Add to that the problem of underpayment of the National Minimum Wage in Newham, which affects one in five of those in work. More than half of employed Newham residents are paid less than the London Living Wage.

Low pay is a scourge and discrimination has a real, local impact on women and families. A gender pay gap is wrong, unfair and we shouldn’t put up with it any longer. Equal pay for work of equal value has been recognised as fair-minded for decades and is enshrined in law. It’s time the government delivered it; which means tougher enforcement and penalties on employers who break the law.

It’s not just the government who need to act. I urge all women who feel they might have a claim to do what my mum did and talk about it.

Only by breaking the stigma of discussing how much we earn, and asking the same of our work colleagues, can we begin to challenge unfair practices.

I will hold the government to account and seek robust enforcement and higher fines. We must fight together to get the Tories to tackle the pay gap and gender discrimination in the work place. More from Lyn

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