Monday, April 27, 2009

Crumbs From The Table

We all know there's a gender pay gap in this country the size of the San Andreas fault. So I suppose that any efforts to tackle it should be welcomed. Still the government's latest plans to ask companies to voluntarily publish their gender-pay balance is way short of what is needed.

Firstly "voluntary" laws don't work. Can you imagine if the motorways had "voluntary" speed limits? No-one would stick to them unless their car physically wouldn't go any faster. And asking companies to adhere to a voluntary code is even more ridiculous - companies have a legal and practical obligation to behave in the interests of their shareholders. If that means ignoring voluntary rules then they not only will do so, they are effectively forced to do so.

Secondly publishing the data is a long way away from doing anything about it. As the headline says "Bill set to expose gender pay gap", not "Bill set to close gender pay gap". Maybe the resulting data will come with a corresponding scratch-and-sniff wallchart telling you just how badly you're getting screwed! Mmmm, what's that smell, oh yes bullshit! Clearly there need to be penalties for companies that don't get on with closing the gap.

Now of course they have said that if companies don't voluntarily follow the code, they will get really, really cross and do something. When? Oh in 2013. When they most likely won't even be in power any more. So just four more years of not getting to know how badly you're being screwed over women. Then it'll likely be up to the Tories to make the next step - so it'll probably be bringing back crinolines and workhouses.

Not that I should strain my pretty little head on the subject anyway. Only companies with over 250 employees are affected and only employees, not contract workers. So lets see how many... oh yes that's it... ALL comedy clubs in the UK will be totally exempt.

Would make fascinating reading though - seeing what clubs pay their male and female stars. I was in Reigate tonight at a lovely little club run by Terry The Stand-Up who runs a whole string of friendly clubs around Surrey - do check them out if you live that way - and I was headlining so tonight at least I must have been the act making the most money*!

*And no - I can't lend you a fiver!


Joy said...

Well said, Cruella, well said.
Although I will say that headlining doesn't NECESSARILY mean you were paid the most; being the most well-known act that night doesn't guarantee it either; nor being the most popular. Until the pay rates are published you will not know.


A radio news report said this voluntary code would not affect the recession!! Oh so women trapped in low paid work or being paid considerably less than their male work colleagues is irrelevant since the recession is only negatively affecting male workers. Furthermore it is only male workers who are losing their jobs.

Still men need not worry because their higher pay will not be reduced to equal female co-workers' low paid since the code is voluntary and we all know voluntary means unenforeable. No voluntary code will not mean female workers doing the same work as men will see their meagre pay increase so as to be identical to male pay. Can't have that can we - women earning the same amount as men - why this would be discrimination since men have families to support unlike women!

Rich Simcox said...

Three years on from winning an equal pay case in the Prison Service ( and - which took six years to resolve - the union I work for, PCS, is back at tribunal starting this week to argue that women in one Department for Transport agency should have pay parity with men in another agency of the same department ( - i.e. effectively the same employer.

Needless to say, the government is far from committed to securing equal pay for these women. It fought like a dog over the Prison Service case, even when all the evidence showed it was wrong and was going to lose (cost to the taxpayer in legal fees alone: £1m, chalk it up). It'll be interesting to see how the DfT case pans out.