Inventory of Trade Union - Gender Pay Gap Policies and Activities in EU 29 countries - WITA GPG - September 2015

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The equal rights and opportunities including the struggle for “equal pay for equal work” have been long time on the agenda of trade unions.
“Women have historically been paid less than men  for  doing  the  same  job.  Contrary  to  widespread  belief,  this  struggle  for  equal  pay  did not  start  in  the  1960s,  but  has  been  taken  up  by  women  workers  since  the  late  19th century....
The issue of equal pay was again raised during WWII, and became an increasingly articulated demand by trade unions and women’s organizations from 1950s onwards.”

One of the four priorities of Framework of Actions on Gender Equality proposed by the European social partners in 2005-CEEP, UNICE/UEAPME and ETUC tackles the gender pay gap. The other three priorities are the addressing  gender roles, promoting women in decision-making and supporting work-life balance. It is important to mention that the Framework emphasizes that “these priorities are interconnected and of equal importance”.
According  to the Framework EU Member States social partners have to ensure  pay systems which do not lead to gender pay discrimination. The national or sectoral collective  agreements or  framework agreements are among the proposed practical tools to tackle gender pay gap. (CEEP, UNICE/UEAPME, ETUC (2005) p. 10)

The Framework of Action on Gender Equality influenced the EU equal opportunity policy; see for example the  targets of 2006-2010 Road Map on Gender Equality, the Communication on “Tackling the pay gap between women and men” in 2008 or the two-stage consultation on reconciliation of work, family and private life launched by the Commission in 2007.

According to the European social partners’ (final) evaluation  report (2009) on the realisation of Framework of Actions on Gender Equality “Despite the persistent inequalities across countries, sectors and professions, the  reports show that Member States and the social partners have been active in this field.” (p.11).
The report among others identified social partners’ activities like round table debates to exchange practices with the aim to understand better the gender pay gap contributing factors and the elimination; collection of gender-specific pay statistics; sectoral surveys on the pay gap; equal pay training for negotiators; organisation of national equal pay action days and also collective bargaining.