Sunderland women ‘working for free until 2015,’ says MP

Sharon Hodgson MP
Sharon Hodgson MP
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WASHINGTON and Sunderland West MP Sharon Hodgson has slammed the Government after figures revealed that women in the North East earn just 81.5p for every £1 earned by men.

Mrs Hodgson, who is also Labour’s Shadow Women and Equalities Minister, was speaking ahead of Equal Pay Day, the day women effectively start working for free because they are still paid less than men.

This year the day falls on 4 November, 3 days earlier than in 2013 because of the rising pay gap.

In the North East, women earn an average of £9.66 an hour, compared to £11.86 for men – a gap of 18.5%.

Labour have pledged to take action to deliver equal pay by requiring companies with more than 250 workers to publish their hourly pay gap in their annual report. For the first time employees will be able to see if discrimination exists and whether all the top jobs are still dominated by men, allowing them to campaign for change within the organisation.

Mrs Hodgson said: “Equal pay is long overdue. 44 years after the Equal Pay Act made it illegal to pay a woman less than a man for doing the same job, it’s clear that there’s still a long way to go to establish fairness in the workplace.

“Under David Cameron and Nick Clegg the pay gap is back on the rise after years of progress, and it couldn’t come at a worse time as families struggle with rising prices.

“A Labour Government will take action by asking employers to publish their pay gap, and we’ll boost the incomes of millions of working women by increasing the minimum wage. But we really need action now, and it’s a disgrace that the Government are unwilling to take it.”