Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson voting in support of a resolution in the EU Parliament sitting in Strasbourg today called for intensification of efforts to close the gender wage gap.

Martina Anderson told her MEP colleagues:

“Although the principle of equal pay for equal work has been enshrined as a fundamental EU principle for over 50 years, it is clear that not enough effort has been devoted to make it reality. The gender pay gap for Ireland sitting at 14% and across the EU currently at 16% demonstrates that a lot more remains to be done to ensure that women have access to well-paid quality employment.

“As the impact of the economic crisis and the current so-called austerity measures continues to be felt more acutely by vulnerable groups such as women it is more important than ever that we narrow this pay gap.

“The current gender pay gap across Europe is about 16% and of course this affects women in all areas of their lives. There is no 16% discount in shops for women, or in rent or mortgage payments, and of course this 16% difference also applies to company pension systems.

“This discrimination is a breach of fundamental rights. Presently, responsibility lies with member states but the Commission can and should bring forward new proposals to ensure that the fundamental gap is closed and that the principle of equal pay for equal work becomes a requirement.

“We need political reforms that aim to remove this wage discrimination so that we have a more equal and integrated labour market. We need the possibility of company sanctions for wage discrimination and anyone who is being discriminated against should have recourse legal assistance.

“The Commission said it would release a report on this issue in the first half of 2013, and now we are in September and we are still waiting, The question is will the Commission now take action on this resolution?”