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Date: Thu 25 April 2013

Women’s equality at work no better than when Scottish Parliament opened in 1999

UNISON today provided damning evidence to MSPs that major obstacles remain to women achieving equality in the workplace and that low paid women deserve action not more words.

Equalities Officer Eileen Dinning told the Scottish Parliament’s Equal Opportunities Committee in written evidence that if anything women’s position in employment has worsened since the Parliament opened in 1999.

She welcomed the Committee’s Inquiry into Women and Work and called on members to use their “power and influence to effect change and convert the rhetoric of equality into money for underpaid women.”

Eileen, who is chair of the STUC Women’s Committee, said after the meeting: “As recognised by the Scottish Government and many economists, women’s participation in the labour market contributes significantly to the Scottish economy.

“But we are making the same points today about the obstacles to women’s participation as we were when the Parliament opened. Women across Scotland need MSPs to stop talking and deliver on equality in the workplace.”

UNISON’s evidence listed a six point plan including: ensuring all public authorities meet equal pay obligations, free and comprehensive childcare; addressing health problems women face around shift working and ensuring employers carry out equality impact assessments on proposed changes to terms and conditions to avoid further discrimination against low paid women.

Eileen told MSPs that free and comprehensive childcare is essential in modern Scottish society. Flexible working is not just about meeting caring responsibilities but about a better work and home life for everyone. Free childcare should be provided in the way we provide primary and secondary education.

She added:  “The STUC is increasingly concerned about the growth of zero hours contracts and the casualisation of the workforce. Zero hours contracts are not about flexible working. Flexible working should be negotiated and agreed. Zero hours contracts show a total lack of commitment on the part of the employers.”

And on equal pay, Eileen said: “Equal pay audits should be compulsory. Employment tribunals on equal pay are still costing the public purse millions of pounds. This could be avoided if reporting and auditing is built in from the beginning.”

ENDS

 

For information please contact:
Eileen Dinning, Equalities Officer, 07958 121845
Fiona Montgomery, Communications Officer, 0141 342 2877 or 07508 877 000

Notes to editors:

1. UNISON is Scotland’s largest trade union representing 160,000 members working in the public sector in Scotland - including all of Scotland's local authorities. More than 70% of our members are women; many are low paid or work part time.

2. UNISON’s evidence to the Equal Opportunities Committee is online at www.scottish.parliament.uk/
S4_EqualOpportunitiesCommittee/Papers_18_April.pdf

3. UNISON says that the following steps are required to address the current imbalance that continues to discriminate against women in the workplace and in accessing the labour market:-

  • Establish through comprehensive research the current obstacles to flexible working;
  • Free and comprehensive childcare;
  • Addressing the universal health concerns relating to women and shift working;
  • Take steps to ensure that ALL public authorities meet their obligations under the Equal Pay provisions of the Equality Act 2010;
  • Take steps to ensure that all public authorities have in place robust recording systems in order to fulfil their obligations under the The Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties) (Scotland) Regulations 2012 No. 162.
  • Call for employers to equality impact assess proposed changes to terms and conditions and avoid further discriminating against low paid women.

 

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