Unite says transparency is first step to ensuring women are paid the same as men

Gloria de Piero MP and Gemma Arterton join equal pay campaigners in December 2014

Gloria de Piero MP and Gemma Arterton join equal pay campaigners in December 2014

Businesses with more than 250 employees will have to publish details of the difference in hourly pay between men and women after a campaign by Unite and Grazia.

The unlikely bedfellows joined forces to support Rotherham MP Sarah Champion’s  10-minute rule Bill on the measure to require large companies to publish details of their pay gap, which currently stands at women earning 81p for every £1 a man earns – an estimated £200,000 over a lifetime in work.

The Bill was passed yesterday by 258 votes to 8. Labour MPs voted in favour while most Tories and Lib Dems abstained.

Ashfield MP Gloria de Piero told USi News: “If you’re publishing the pay gap, you’re monitoring it, you’re putting it right.

“Companies haven’t been asked to do it before. It’s been suggested they might want to do it but what you need to say is every company should do this. They do it in other countries and have a much better record on equal pay than we do, so we’d like to see it in Britain.

“It’s just not just a question for women because no man wants to see their wife, sister, daughter or mum to earn less than they deserve.”

Whilst welcoming the move, Unite’s political director Jennie Formby told USi News publishing the gender pay gap was only the first step.

She said: “Yes, it’s going to pull some good employers to do the right thing, but the only way we’re ever going to end pay inequality is to have strong trade unions who can represent people, to have collective bargaining so they can bargain on wages and we believe the next step for that is sectorial bargaining as they do it other European countries so we can set a rate for the job so there is no question at all of allowing people to be put on grades that are lore than their skill and ability.”

She also called on the government to scrap ET fees which, she said, was denying workers access to justice.

Gloria de Piero and Gemma ArtertonLabour leader Ed Miliband backed the campaign, as did Gemma Arterton, currently starring in the stage version of Made in Dagenham, the story of Ford workers who in 1968 took three days’ strike action over equal pay.

Attending a reception at Parliament, along with four veterans of the Dagenham dispute, the former Bond girl said: “I hope today we can shine a light on this issue and more people can be more confident about speaking up about it.”

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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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