On average, the difference between men and women’s hourly earnings across the EU is 16%, rising to 19% in the UK, according to figures published by the EU commission. These figures were published a day after 2013 European Equal Pay Day, an EU-wide event marking the extra number of days women must work yearly to match the amount earned by men. This number currently stands at a staggering 59 days – almost an extra two months extra each year!
“European Equal Pay Day reminds us of the unequal pay conditions women still face in the labour market,” said Viviane Reding, the EU’s Justice Commissioner. “While the pay gap has declined in the recent years, there’s no reason to celebrate”…”much of the change actually resulted from a decline in men’s earnings rather than an increase for women.”
European equal pay day falls during the Spring months in most European countries (February to April). The UK is an exception, holding it in Autumn (November 7th), and there is a clever rationale for that date. It marks the point in the year when women essentially stop earning, and work for free until the New Year. Aside from this shocking statistic, ongoing trends in the labour market have seen mostly women lose their jobs, and a minority of then get new ones. This all points to an economic recovery in the future that could leave women behind, according to the Fawcett women’s rights society.
The principle of equal pay for equal work is actually written into the EU Treaties since 1957, but it’s quite clear that there is still a long way to go. The practice of same pay is not ingrained, and is done on a piecemeal basis, by a few companies that have helped to spearhead change. In the short-term it looks like an unjust situation prevails for women, and an imbalanced workforce is created – a terrible anomaly in these supposedly enlightened times.