On the occasion of Equal Pay Day,(28th February 2013) the National Women’s Council of Ireland and SIPTU are calling on the government to urgently tackle the gender pay gap and protect collective bargaining and wage setting mechanisms in low paid sectors. Ann Irwin, Policy Officer with the National Women’s Council of Ireland said, “Women still continue to earn significantly less than men. The latest figures from the EU Commission show that the Gender Pay Gap in Ireland is 13.9% – in other words women in Ireland are paid almost 14% less than men. The Gender Pay Gap exists even though women do better at school and university than men.”Ann Irwin continued, “What is perhaps most disturbing is the high cost of motherhood.  Figures from the OECD show that in Ireland the Gender Pay Gap for women with no children is -17% but this increases significantly to 14% for women with at least one child – a jump of 31 percentage points.”Latest statistics from the OECD also demonstrate that a glass ceiling for women continues to exist.Ann Irwin stated, “While we can account for a portion of the gender pay gap due to difference in age, experience, or different types of job, there is also clear discrimination. We see that most in the differences between the bottom and top income earners. For the bottom 10% the Gender Pay Gap in Ireland is 4% but this rises to 24.6% for the top 10% of income earners.”Commenting on findings from the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, Ethel Buckley, National Campaigns and Equality Organiser in SIPTU stated, “The gender pay gap exists across industrial sectors. These findings confirm what we already know which is that collective bargaining and the maintenance of minimum wages and wages setting mechanisms in low paid sectors are central to addressing the gender pay gap.  Maintaining a focus on these low paid sectors which tend to be the ones governed by the Joint Labour Committee system under review at the moment is vital.”Ann Irwin concluded, “The government needs to tackle this issue urgently. It is not only a moral imperative but also one of economic growth. Improved educational attainment among women has boosted economic growth but greater participation in the labour market, more equal labour market outcomes and a more efficient use of women’s skills are needed to ensure continued economic growth.”