Scotland’s governments have taken their eye off the ball on equal pay

On the 44th anniversary of Labour passing the Equal Pay Act, Governments in Scotland and the UK have taken their eye off the ball, Labour’s Shadow Scottish Secretary, Margaret Curran MP, is set to warn.

Revealing new data from the independent House of Commons Library that shows the gender pay gap has widened since 2010, Margaret Curran will point to the last Labour Government’s achievement in narrowing the gap, and will pledge that the next Labour Government will again take action again to narrow the pay gap.

She will criticise the SNP for a “total lack of ambition” on their plans for tackling equal pay and point say that the Scottish Government’s White Paper contains “empty promises to win women’s votes, but nothing on the tough fights we need to have to change women’s lives.”

Ms Curran is expected to say:

“Today we mark forty four years since Labour’s Equal Pay Act passed into law and it became illegal to pay men and women different amounts for the same work.

The Equal Pay Act was a success for the Labour movement across the whole of the UK.

From the first women who went on strike in Scotland for equal pay in 1943.

To the famous strike at Ford in Dagenham in 1968.

The Labour movement, and the Labour Party, has always been at the front of those tough fights for equality and social justice. 

And in Government, we took action and narrowed the gap by 7.4%.

We introduced the minimum wage, which lifted the pay of thousands of low paid women across Scotland.

None of these changes happened without tough fights. And we drew strength from our allies across the UK.

But since 2010, progress has stalled. The UK and the Scottish Governments have taken their eye off the ball. 

Under the Tories, the pay gap in Scotland has started to widen again.

If our progress had continued, women across the UK would have been £177 on average better off each year.

But instead the clock has gone back on equal pay.

And from the SNP and the Scottish Government, we see complacency and a total lack of ambition.

The Scottish Government’s White Paper contained nothing but empty promises to win women’s votes, but nothing on the tough fights we need to have to change women’s lives.

There’s nothing about how they would increase women’s wages.

And nothing about how they would continue our progress on closing the pay gap.

That’s not good enough.

Because, even with the great progress we made, it’s not right that today women are still paid only 80p for every pound a man is paid.

If we are elected next year, we promise more change for women across Scotland.

To build on the progress we made in Government.

We’ll introduce “make work pay” contracts to incentivise firms to pay the living wage.

We’ll strengthen the minimum wage and increase pay for thousands of low paid women.

And we’ll make sure that we continue Labour’s progress on equal pay by ensuring more transparency when it comes to company pay.

The best prospects for Scotland’s women is with staying part of the UK.

We made the achievements we did because we were able to pool and share resources across the UK.

The SNP’s plans for separation are nothing more than a plan for a race to the bottom, across the UK, on pay and conditions.

That’s not the way for Scotland’s women.

And that’s not the way to complete Labour’s legacy on equal pay.”

28 May 2014