SIPTU has called for women to become organised in their unions so that effective action can be taken to overcome the gender pay gap which Eurostat figures published on International Women’s Day (Wednesday, 8th March) indicate is still prevalent throughout the economy. SIPTU National Campaigns and Equality Organiser, Karan O Loughlin, said: “Despite making up over 46% of the workforce in the EU women in general are still earning less than their male counterparts. On average women are earning 84 cent for every €1 earned by male workers. This is even worse in the arts sector where women on average earn as little as 77 cent for every €1 earned by their male colleagues.“The Eurostat figures confirm that in general the gender pay gap is lower in the public sector as pay agreements, arrived at by collective bargaining, provide better protection for women against pay discrimination. Collective bargaining coverage is much lower in the private sector and as a result the gender pay gap is more pronounced.“There are various reasons for the existence and size of a gender pay gap such as the preponderance of women in low pay jobs, as well as the negative consequences of career breaks or part-time work due to childbearing. The lack of affordable and accessible childcare in Ireland is a huge barrier to equality of opportunity and equality of outcome for women.”She added: “It is a shame to say that the top three issues of concern for women in work in Ireland, which were highlighted in the Royal Commission on Labour Report of 1894, of child care, low pay and the length of the working day, are still very live issues today. It is well past time for all the stakeholders in society to reflect on this and to consider how we can deal with the continuing existence of systematic inequality for women.“Organisations need to look at their own practices and pay for women workers. Gender audits and pay audits should be carried out to identify where women are positioned and to establish if there is a gender pay gap in existence. However, most importantly women workers need to organise themselves in to trade unions to collectively deal with the gender pay gap and inequality in the workplace.”