PERC Women School, Budapest, 19-21 October 2022

The PERC Women School was organized this year in Budapest with the financial support of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation- Competence Centre – Future of Work based in Brussels and in collaboration with Hungarian unions. Around fifty participants from PERC region took part in the meeting. The theme of the Women School was “Fighting gender pay gap and pension gap. What role for trade unions?”

The situation of women on the European labour market is challenging especially during the present post-pandemic and geopolitical tense situation. Women work part-time more than men (accounting for more than 70% part-timers) and an increase has been documented in lower paid jobs (retail sales, cleaning and helping). Women outnumber men in fixed term or temporary agency contracts. Women are still paid 16% less than men are. The gender pay gap has not narrowed in recent years. More than 70% of low-wage earners are women and 17% of women live in poverty compared to 15% of men. Older women are particularly at risk of deprivation. Women’s average pension is 40% lower than that of men. Women continue to be held back not only by glass ceilings that stop them acceding the work hierarchy, but also by glass walls that segregate women into low paid jobs. At the same time minimum-wage earners are typically found in the lower-paying sectors (hotels, restaurants and catering, retail, health, and other service activities). This is especially the case for female minimum-wage earners, since women are more likely to work in these lowest-paid sectors and occupations. Extremely difficult situation can be found in informal sector and care economy.

Taking into consideration the challenges women are facing entering the labour market, the PERC Women’s School aimed at developing the necessary strategies and action plans on fighting inequalities, gender pay gap, pension gap, discuss the outcomes, and further development of PERC Women Committee campaign on Wages and fighting Gender Pay Gap. The main objectives of the PERC Women School were: to discuss policies for combating segregation in occupational sectors and breaking glass ceiling and vertical segregation; raise awareness on existing inequalities and stereotypes; alerting about gender pay gap and its consequences; enhance partnership to tackle gender pay gap; inform about pay audits as part of collective bargaining and gender-neutral job classification and continuing campaigning against gender pay gap and pension gap within the global ITUC “Pay Rise Campaign”.

Sabine Slegers, President of PERC Women Committee, presented the challenges of gender pay gap in Belgium and referred to the ITUC policy document in preparation of ITUC World Congress in November, Aline Bruser, ETUC Advisor, referred to European debate on gender pay gap and work of equal value and presented updates on Pay Transparency Directive; Dr Barbara Helfferich presented the research on New Frontiers for Collective Bargaining and concrete actions to be developed by unions. The presentations from experts have been followed by a round table with exchange of experiences and national strategies to tackle gender pay gap in some PERC countries and work in groups to design recommendations for future work of the PERC Women Committee on gender pay gap.