The body responsible for safeguarding equality in the UK will tell the government today that the economic climate is too fragile to impose equal pay reviews on business.Sorry, ‘sisters’, but needs must when the Devil drives, and there are some things we can no longer afford.
And chief among those things is the notion that there is ‘unequal pay’ in the UK when what there really is, as Tim Worstall points out, is a disparity in how these figures are compiled.
But they haven’t quite given up on the idea, merely trimming their sails to meet the unfavourable winds:
Summarising the strategy, the chief executive of the EHRC, Nicola Brewer, said an entirely new equal pay act was needed, and called for "radical reform in the future." This would be a long-term exercise, requiring several years of work. More immediately, the commission's approach is based on "encouraging" companies to improve their record voluntarily.‘Several years of work’ = ‘several years of continued employment for Nicola Brewster’, that is….
Even this doesn’t please the sistren though, as you might have expected:
The focus on what is realistic in the light of the recession dismayed campaigners for women's rights. "We must not get caught in this trap of saying in difficult times we will trade in women's rights," said Katherine Rake, director of the Fawcett Society.Ladies, ladies! There’s a new mood in the country. Can’t you sense it?
Sarah Veale, head of the equality department at the TUC, said pay audits were "a crucial part" of eliminating the pay gap. "Until companies are forced to shine a light on where the anomalies are, you can't address the problem," she said.
Bronwyn McKenna, a director of Unison, said she was "very sceptical about any measure that doesn't actually compel any employers to do an audit". "The voluntary approach simply hasn't worked," she said.
We are having to cut out luxuries. Make too much noise, and someone might start to wonder if, given Tim’s observations, we really need, and can justify, your positions.