Strike rally in Cardiff credit Ross Saunders
Strike rally in Cardiff credit Ross Saunders

Katrine Williams, Cardiff West Socialist Party

Eight out of ten employers pay less to women workers. That’s even more than when mandatory gender pay gap reporting started in 2017, showing that we cannot rely on employers to address discrimination and pay problems.

Working for nothing

Women workers get the worst deal in the banking and insurance industry. The pay gap is so huge in this sector – over 31% – that it is the equivalent of women working for nothing until 23 April each year. The banking and finance pay gap is made worse by large numbers of women workers in the lowest-paid roles, while men occupy the vast majority of highly paid senior management positions

Work traditionally seen as jobs for women is undervalued and underpaid. Bosses lean on this to hold down wages and boost profits. While attitudes have substantially changed, caring responsibilities still overwhelmingly fall on women

The lowest-paid worker is usually the one in the household to cut their hours.  So 40% of women workers are part-time. The slashing of our public services has only made it even more difficult to juggle work and home responsibilities. Employers capitalise on the need for workers to get part-time working and keep pay down.

Strike wave

All of this means that women workers have even more to fight for. Trade union militancy has been rising, including in sectors with large numbers of women workers. Health, education and civil service workers have been taking strike action as the cost of living bites.

The whole working class can unite around immediate demands for improved jobs, pay and services, by fighting for inflation-proof pay rises, cutting the working week without loss of pay, free good-quality flexible childcare, and fully resourcing all our public services to meet needs.

To end low pay and the gender pay gap for good, we have to get rid of the whole capitalist system that drives division on pay, and discriminates and oppresses women, and fight for a socialist alternative.