Women in Food Industry slow to claim equal pay rights

It is ironic that twenty-five years after the first significant claim for equal pay made by Kitchen Worker Julie Hayward, the food industry is still a major source of inequality in the workplace.

Women in the food industry are likely to be paid considerably less than male workers doing similar work. This is not just on the shop floor – male managers can earn 46% more than their female colleagues. This is much more than the acknowledged 14.9% pay gap that seen in most sectors outside the public sector. It is also true that whilst two-thirds of employees in the sector are male, women occupy lower paid jobs and are more likely to suffer discrimination, mistreatment and exploitation.

A recent study by the Equality and Human Rights Commission said that some improvements have been made particularly for Agency Workers but significant problems still remain.

So why aren’t women in the industry making claims to put things right?

Research shows that women are unhappier with their level of pay than men but are less likely to complain. They are reluctant to make representations about pay anomalies or take action over equality issues. Researchers found that, while 28 per cent of women and 20 per cent of men were highly dissatisfied with the size of their pay packet the roles were reversed when it came to doing anything about it. This may well be the reason that employers are failing to redress the pay gap between men and women despite a number of equal pay cases showing widespread discriminatory practice in the food industry. Pay Justice thinks that employers have taken advantage of the situation for far too long. It exists to support women in any industry to obtain their entitlement to fair treatment in the workplace.


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