As the dust settles on Wimbledon 2013

As the dust settles on Wimbledon 2013 and with it the debate on equal earnings for the male and female winners, the real equal pay issues are probably still hidden and equality still to be achieved.

Besides great tennis, for many Wimbledon is also associated with strawberries and cream and green, manicured courts. The catering is provided by 1800 mostly female staff, employed by an external agency. The ground staff appear to be mainly male and are employed by the All England Lawn Tennis Ground plc (swollen by temp staff during the championships).

Whilst Pay Justice isn’t aware of the pay for ground staff, we would be very surprised if the low and unfair pay that female staff in catering suffer is not replicated in the sunshine in South West London.

Catering is a typical example of work traditionally seen as “women’s work” and therefore devalued and underpaid. The best evidence for this undervaluation has been the many recent successful claims that women in local government catering roles have been able to progress.

Hundreds of women providing catering in a wide range of local authority establishments have received back pay settlements and improved wages as a result of Equal Pay claims. This has been based on formal job evaluation which has established the true value of food preparation and associated customer service work.

Women working in Local Authority catering earning under £6.00 an hour have successfully made claims against male comparators doing jobs such as ground maintenance at around £10 an hour.

If you objectively and analytically look at the “job factors” involved in catering, the work has clear and considerable challenges. These include knowledge of food preparation, hygiene standards, having to use a range of specialist equipment, dexterity, long periods of working on your feet (often in hot conditions) and dealing with customers` demands.

Using the same sort of factor analysis for performing a ground maintenance role, whilst sharing similar demands for the factors relating to knowledge and use of specialist equipment, workers are paid a lot more, yet do not have to face the challenges of customer service and dexterity.

The real equal pay issue at Wimbledon is maybe less about the 128 women playing in the Championship but more for the much larger number of low paid women earning a lot less for providing the food compared with the men mowing the grass.

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