Honeyball’s Weekly Round-Up

Labour Party

Millions of pounds may have to be paid back to some of the UK’s biggest supermarket employees, the vast majority of which are women, following an equal pay claim against one of the country’s leading retailers.

The claims echo the £1bn  landmark ruling by the Supreme court two years ago, which found in favour of thousands of female workers who claimed Birmingham City Council had paid them less than other workers, mainly men, for doing equivalent work.

If the case against the supermarket is proved then it could mean other supermarkets and retailers face similar claims.

While reading the report it was a surprise to learn that well over 100,000 equal pay cases had been brought between 2009 and 2012.

Cases like these will continue for many years to come, I dare say, because women are frequently still paid differently for equivalent work to their male colleagues.

Equal pay cases are, unsurprisingly, complex and therefore take many years to complete, as it did for two home care workers featured in Saturday’s Guardian. Joan Clulow and Pamela Saunders’ case wasn’t settled for six years following a tough battle after they found they had been underpaid in their roles.

Meanwhile there is just six weeks to go until the European Elections, and the Brussels based newspaper European Voice, asks: “The European Parliament, 2014-2019- what’s at Stake?” Its special report explores what kind of European Parliament will emerge following the election and examines different scenarios.

In another ‘special report’ the same paper  compares access to healthcare across member states and reveals that equality to access for all is far from reality. Exclusion or insufficient access is largely determined by socio economic factors, it says.

However, the report includes a survey which finds gender to be a significant factor in determining access and shows that women suffer more significantly than men in this regard; and this was the case across all the EU countries surveyed.

Although member states largely take responsibility for their own healthcare provision the Commission has a level of scrutiny over national healthcare decisions. For example, the Commission has started to examine national healthcare spending and an important task is to ensure that healthcare funding is not only spent wisely but that it is accessible.

Of course better provision for vulnerable groups must be addressed, such as those affected by socio economic factors- but also the significant gender inequality must also be examined.