EU helps women

FOLLOWING International Women’s Day, it’s important to highlight how many of the rights which protect women in Wales have been introduced by the EU – many of which we take for granted.

The EU has done much to protect the rights of women as workers, mothers, citizens and pensioners. Legislation from Europe protects equal pay for equal work, the right to maternity and paternity leave and the right to return to work after having a child. It also ensures zero tolerance to violence against women and equal rights to a pension. These are hard-fought rights which need to be protected.

I’m concerned by right-wing parties who choose to overlook the importance of these protections. This week a UKIP Councillor suggested that business owners “should be able to refuse to serve women”, and added that refusing to serve homosexuals should also be allowed. This goes hand in hand with recent comments from Nigel Farage who claimed women who take time off work to have children are “worth less” to employers than men.

Politicians should be promoting equality and fairness and not just on International Women’s Day. Stirring up prejudice is simply unacceptable.

Jayne Bryant Labour MEP candidate Newport

Comments (7)

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1:08pm Mon 10 Mar 14

Katie Re-Registered says...

EU legislation on sex discrimination is obviously useful, but in my opinion it just doesn't go far enough. With regard to equal pay, it's as well to remember that over 40 years after the Equal Pay Act came into law, women workers still earn around 15 per cent less than their male counterparts. A major flaw in British and other European equal pay legislation is that it still allows employers to pay workers doing exactly the same job unequal rates of pay so long as they are deemed to be of the same sex. In practice this reinforces the occupational sex segregation that keeps women in the traditionally lower paid jobs and men in the higher ones as employers know that if they hire only one sex to do certain jobs ironically 'equal pay' legislation affords them carte blanche to pay workers as unfairly as they like. Take for instance the case of the male boss who pay an all female typing pool different rates of pay depending on which female employees they find physically attractive or not. Equal pay for equal work should mean just that. An independent equal pay inspectorate should be set up and sent out to every workplace across the country to implement compulsory equal pay audits in exactly the same way that health and safety audits are carried out. The onus should be put on the employer to guarantee equal and fair pay for their workers, as employees are often in far too much of a weak position to speak up on their own. They should be allowed to take their concerns confidentially to an equal pay body who will investigate and order bosses to implement equal pay on their behalf.

Another gaping omission from sex (and importantly gender) discrimination is the fact that despite a Sex Discrimination Act being in force for almost 40 years now, it is still entirely legal to discriminate on the grounds of gender identity. This actually effects everybody, but impacts disproportionately hard upon certain groups of the transgender community and also those who define outside the gender binary. The 2010 Equality Act did improve legal protection of the rights of transgendered people, but it is still extremely piecemeal and definitely does not go far enough. It is entirely legal, for instance, to discriminate against a pre-op or non-op transsexual woman who has not been permitted a gender recognition certificate. This gives bosses not only the right to pay her far less than a male colleague for doing exactly the same work or even more work, but it also means that a prospective employer can refuse to hire her in the first place purely on the grounds that she is not judged to 'gender conform' or she can be refused service in a shop or restaurant. Similarly, people who define as intersex or outside the gender binary have no rights at all.

As mentioned previously, allowing companies and organisations to reinforce what much feminist theory argues to be an artificially constructed patriarchal concepts of femininity and masculinity doesn't only affect the rights of trans and gender non-conforming people but also everyone else. A prime example of this was of the recent industrial tribunal case in which it was ruled entirely legal for a high street store to fire a female shop assistant simply because they believed that she was not wearing enough make-up(!)

Just what part of gender equality do British and European legislators not understand? Argentina recently passed a law that makes it illegal to discriminate on the grounds of gender identity: why can't we in Europe have similar and how about some legal recognition for those people who identify outside of the masculine/feminine gender binary?

While both the British government and the EU are still highly gender normative and heterosexist establishments I guess we won't be seeing any significant change any time soon!
EU legislation on sex discrimination is obviously useful, but in my opinion it just doesn't go far enough. With regard to equal pay, it's as well to remember that over 40 years after the Equal Pay Act came into law, women workers still earn around 15 per cent less than their male counterparts. A major flaw in British and other European equal pay legislation is that it still allows employers to pay workers doing exactly the same job unequal rates of pay so long as they are deemed to be of the same sex. In practice this reinforces the occupational sex segregation that keeps women in the traditionally lower paid jobs and men in the higher ones as employers know that if they hire only one sex to do certain jobs ironically 'equal pay' legislation affords them carte blanche to pay workers as unfairly as they like. Take for instance the case of the male boss who pay an all female typing pool different rates of pay depending on which female employees they find physically attractive or not. Equal pay for equal work should mean just that. An independent equal pay inspectorate should be set up and sent out to every workplace across the country to implement compulsory equal pay audits in exactly the same way that health and safety audits are carried out. The onus should be put on the employer to guarantee equal and fair pay for their workers, as employees are often in far too much of a weak position to speak up on their own. They should be allowed to take their concerns confidentially to an equal pay body who will investigate and order bosses to implement equal pay on their behalf. Another gaping omission from sex (and importantly gender) discrimination is the fact that despite a Sex Discrimination Act being in force for almost 40 years now, it is still entirely legal to discriminate on the grounds of gender identity. This actually effects everybody, but impacts disproportionately hard upon certain groups of the transgender community and also those who define outside the gender binary. The 2010 Equality Act did improve legal protection of the rights of transgendered people, but it is still extremely piecemeal and definitely does not go far enough. It is entirely legal, for instance, to discriminate against a pre-op or non-op transsexual woman who has not been permitted a gender recognition certificate. This gives bosses not only the right to pay her far less than a male colleague for doing exactly the same work or even more work, but it also means that a prospective employer can refuse to hire her in the first place purely on the grounds that she is not judged to 'gender conform' or she can be refused service in a shop or restaurant. Similarly, people who define as intersex or outside the gender binary have no rights at all. As mentioned previously, allowing companies and organisations to reinforce what much feminist theory argues to be an artificially constructed patriarchal concepts of femininity and masculinity doesn't only affect the rights of trans and gender non-conforming people but also everyone else. A prime example of this was of the recent industrial tribunal case in which it was ruled entirely legal for a high street store to fire a female shop assistant simply because they believed that she was not wearing enough make-up(!) Just what part of gender equality do British and European legislators not understand? Argentina recently passed a law that makes it illegal to discriminate on the grounds of gender identity: why can't we in Europe have similar and how about some legal recognition for those people who identify outside of the masculine/feminine gender binary? While both the British government and the EU are still highly gender normative and heterosexist establishments I guess we won't be seeing any significant change any time soon! Katie Re-Registered
  • Score: -5

1:38pm Mon 10 Mar 14

Banjalucka says...

Kate - A very long anaysis. All this has been said since the suffragettes. Think its as equal as its going to get, especially as women are the main part of the baby-making chain!
Kate - A very long anaysis. All this has been said since the suffragettes. Think its as equal as its going to get, especially as women are the main part of the baby-making chain! Banjalucka
  • Score: 1

5:01pm Mon 10 Mar 14

BobEvams2014 says...

UKIP will ensure the UK will not have to adhere to this rule imposed on us from Brussels. If we wish to pay women less, that's a matter for us,our fine leader and future PM has made his views clear regarding women in the workplace, and despite being ambushed again by the bias BBC who had the cheek to confront him with a woman who DARED to disagree with him, he still wiped the floor with her. Paying Women less is a British Tradition, one we should be proud off and fight to maintain !
UKIP will ensure the UK will not have to adhere to this rule imposed on us from Brussels. If we wish to pay women less, that's a matter for us,our fine leader and future PM has made his views clear regarding women in the workplace, and despite being ambushed again by the bias BBC who had the cheek to confront him with a woman who DARED to disagree with him, he still wiped the floor with her. Paying Women less is a British Tradition, one we should be proud off and fight to maintain ! BobEvams2014
  • Score: -3

7:47pm Mon 10 Mar 14

Mervyn James says...

Positive discrimination won't work, women don't want it, in political terms the electorate won't support it. Tories have decimated female representation, now if they went to ETON.... We all remember Torfaen and the attempt to put up all female representatives, the women backed out of it as ridiculous. Equality via better qualifications and eligibility by all means, no to putting up women for the sake of it. I think Thatcher did it for women-kind, no-one wants any repeat of that Women trying to act macho doesn't really work...
Positive discrimination won't work, women don't want it, in political terms the electorate won't support it. Tories have decimated female representation, now if they went to ETON.... We all remember Torfaen and the attempt to put up all female representatives, the women backed out of it as ridiculous. Equality via better qualifications and eligibility by all means, no to putting up women for the sake of it. I think Thatcher did it for women-kind, no-one wants any repeat of that Women trying to act macho doesn't really work... Mervyn James
  • Score: 3

11:45pm Mon 10 Mar 14

Spinflight says...

Hmmm Donna Edmunds is the coucillor in question....

"‘I would not condone their actions, and would not shop in such a place. In fact, many people would probably choose not to shop there.
‘However, I am a libertarian and do not think the government should legislate against such things.’

Unlike Ms Bryant she has had a proper job....

ukipnewport.com
Hmmm Donna Edmunds is the coucillor in question.... "‘I would not condone their actions, and would not shop in such a place. In fact, many people would probably choose not to shop there. ‘However, I am a libertarian and do not think the government should legislate against such things.’ Unlike Ms Bryant she has had a proper job.... ukipnewport.com Spinflight
  • Score: -1

12:17pm Tue 11 Mar 14

whatintheworld says...

Spinflight wrote:
Hmmm Donna Edmunds is the coucillor in question.... "‘I would not condone their actions, and would not shop in such a place. In fact, many people would probably choose not to shop there. ‘However, I am a libertarian and do not think the government should legislate against such things.’ Unlike Ms Bryant she has had a proper job.... ukipnewport.com
and what qualifications do you need for this "proper job"? none.

Donna Edmunds is full of it
[quote][p][bold]Spinflight[/bold] wrote: Hmmm Donna Edmunds is the coucillor in question.... "‘I would not condone their actions, and would not shop in such a place. In fact, many people would probably choose not to shop there. ‘However, I am a libertarian and do not think the government should legislate against such things.’ Unlike Ms Bryant she has had a proper job.... ukipnewport.com[/p][/quote]and what qualifications do you need for this "proper job"? none. Donna Edmunds is full of it whatintheworld
  • Score: 0

11:33pm Tue 11 Mar 14

Spinflight says...

Both are relatively young in political terms but the UKIP chappess has had a career and a family, which gives her some experience of normal life. This is a good thing in a politician.

Ms Bryant has not. Never had a non-political job, no children, nothing in fact which could equip her for representing anyone but herself. This is bad.

If someone turned up for a £70,000 a year job interview with no experience and nothing to offer people would be stunned. If new labour's second best candidate for the european parliaments only qualification is inhaling second hand smoke from Paul Flynns office no-one bats an eyelid.
Both are relatively young in political terms but the UKIP chappess has had a career and a family, which gives her some experience of normal life. This is a good thing in a politician. Ms Bryant has not. Never had a non-political job, no children, nothing in fact which could equip her for representing anyone but herself. This is bad. If someone turned up for a £70,000 a year job interview with no experience and nothing to offer people would be stunned. If new labour's second best candidate for the european parliaments only qualification is inhaling second hand smoke from Paul Flynns office no-one bats an eyelid. Spinflight
  • Score: -1

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