Dame Anne Begg MP was delighted to be invited by the Lord Provost George Adam to speak at an International Women’s Day lunch at the Town House. The lunch was organised for fifty women working in frontline services in Aberdeen. The women were honoured for their roles in supporting the economy of Aberdeen.
During the lunch, Anne spoke about the gender pay gap which still exists in Aberdeen, making reference to the Ford machinists in Dagenham who went on strike when their jobs were threatened with being downgraded. Anne said:
“Forty four years after the Equal Pay Act, Aberdeen still has one of the largest gender pay gaps in the whole country. Women in Aberdeen earn on average only two thirds of what men do. So even though we have equal pay for equal value – and I was so glad when Aberdeen City Council reached a deal about pay equalisation which meant that a lot of low paid women workers got their fair due – and I’m also glad that ACC also wants to be a living wage employer – but 44 years after the Equal Pay Act there is still a huge discrepancy between women’s wages and men’s in Aberdeen.
“There are a number of reasons for this.
“Surprisingly it is because unemployment is low. You can’t have a gender pay gap if people aren’t receiving pay. But it also because we generally have a high wage economy in the North East, especially in the oil and gas industry, but these high paying jobs are predominately filled by men, while the women have the jobs in the less well paid public sector, the service industries and in care.
“And despite all the advances it is still the case that jobs which mostly employ women are more likely to be part time and have been deemed to have a lower worth which is reflected in lower pay.
“Just look at the care sector. Like the Ford machinists whose skilled jobs were being classed as unskilled, so the army of carers working in Aberdeen and throughout the country, doing an incredibly difficult job, a job that many people couldn’t face doing, are classed as unskilled and are paid little more than the minimum wage. It’s a scandal and we wonder why we can’t get people to do the job.”