Labour Councillors have called on the ruling Conservative administration at Suffolk County Council to take action on wage inequality by committing to a county-wide annual survey of the pay gap between men and women.
Len Jacklin, Labour County Councillor for Oulton, questioned the Deputy Council Leader at last week’s Full Council about the serious issue of gender pay inequality in Suffolk and urged him to take action.
Cllr Hudson, Conservative Cabinet member responsible for human resources, could not provide the figures for gender pay inequality in Suffolk, despite being given more than 2 full days to find them. Nor were the Cabinet willing to commit to an annual survey in order to find out. However, Cllr Hudson did concede that the pay gap for Suffolk County Council staff was 16.4%. Although that is slightly below the national average, he agreed that this gap is unsupportable.
Cllr Hudson said that, while he would not commit to a survey, he was willing to offer an “assurance to look at these figures” and that we must “all work towards equal pay”.
Speaking after the session, Cllr Len Jacklin said, “I think, regardless of political party, we were all shocked to discover that the gender pay gap for County Council staff was so wide. For a progressive Council and a progressive County, that’s just not good enough.”
“It is a mistake to view the issue of gender pay equality solely as a social issue. It is of course a mark of a progressive and modern society that women can work the same job and expect to be paid the same wage as a man. But in addition, pay inequality is a serious economic and business issue – one that holds back both the national and the Suffolk economy. A recent study by the New Anglia LEP, has shown that if women were paid equally to men, we would have a more vibrant economy, stronger businesses and more jobs”.
Cllr Jacklin added “The first step to fixing a problem is to understand it. If we, as a Council, were bold enough to undertake an annual county-wide survey, with the cooperation of businesses, organisations and charities across Suffolk, as well as the LEP, we would then be in a position to take the logical and progressive steps necessary to lower the wage gap.”
“I hope the Council will be willing to commit to tackling this problem soon”.
Questions in Full Council:
Cllr Jacklin to Cllr Hudson:
Nationally, the current gender pay gap stands at 19.2% – that means that women are earning on average 19.2% less than a man doing the same job. Can the Cllr Hudson please inform the Council what the current pay gap is in Suffolk?
The economic benefits of pay equality have been proven, and it is a view supported by Nicky Morgan, the minister for Women and Equalities, as well as the New Anglia LEP. Seeing as you cannot begin to remedy a problem until you understand it, and in the interest of building a stronger economy in Suffolk, is the Leader willing to commit this Council to an annual survey of gender pay inequality?