Tyne and Wear fire chiefs 'striving' to reduce gender pay gap

Fire chiefs have promised to ‘strive’ to keep reducing their gender pay gap.

Wednesday, 5th February 2020, 5:15 pm
Updated Thursday, 6th February 2020, 12:03 am
Tyne & Wear Fire and Rescue HQ

Figures for the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) from 2019 showed it had a gap between men and women worth about £2.46 per hour, on average.

Bosses explained the difference can be partly explained by traditional differences in the roles taken on by both genders, but also admitted it could ‘take years’ to properly bridge the gap.

“Administration and cleaning tends to be done by women and in senior management roles we tend to have more men,” said John Rawling, the brigade’s strategic HR manager.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“That tends to be the pattern seen across many public and private sector organisations, it doesn’t mean we accept it, but it is reflective of wider trends in society and the economy.”

Rawling was speaking at this week’s (Monday, February 3) meeting of the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Authority’s Human Resources Committee.

Chief Fire Officer Chris Lowther told the panel the brigade would ‘strive through positive action and recruitment’ to eliminate its gender pay gap entirely.

Rawling added circumstantial factors could also affect the gap, such as the recruitment of three women to the service’s control room who were all on a ‘development rate’ of pay at the time the figures were compiled.

Figures showed last year (2019) 180 male members of staff were in the top salary band, compared to 27 women.

Members of the fire authority, which scrutinises the work of TWFRS, were also told the ‘rate of retirements and new recruits’ could be ‘quite significant’ in altering the long term pay balance.

Newcastle councillor Tom Woodwark, a Liberal Democrat member of the fire authority, said: “People should be more aware of the direction of travel.

“Historically this has been an organisation which has been white male to such an extent it is going to take years to get close to parity.”

Coun Wilf Flynn added leaders on the fire authority ‘need to look at ourselves’ and how they can improve gender balance by promoting more female authority members.