ETF to von der Leyen: “Don’t put the EU Pay Transparency Directive on ice!”

26 May 2020

In view of the European Commission’s decision on its Work Programme tomorrow, the ETF has addressed a letter to European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen protesting against the plan to put the EU Pay Transparency Directive and the whole Gender Equality Strategy on ice! Such an approach would be a mistake with far-reaching consequences for women workers in Europe.

President van der Leyen made gender equality a cornerstone of her Presidency. Binding pay transparency measures to close Europe’s 15% gender pay gap were one of just five pledges that Ursula von der Leyen vowed to deliver within 100 days of becoming Commission President. Equal pay is a requirement of the EU Treaty, it is not a fair-weather option. Even more so, action to secure gender equality cannot be called into question even in times of the COVID-19 crisis.

There is a strong interconnection between the EU road to recovery plan and establishing the new normal after COVID-19 crisis, this highlights the need for a Gender Equality Strategy. Throughout the EU, women workers are at the front-line of the COVID-19 crisis but their work is often underpaid and undervalued.

The transport sector in Europe is still a male-dominated industry. Only about 22% of all transport workers are women. This percentage is increasing, and women are becoming an important part of the workforce in transport. However, women predominate work in service-related and administrative jobs and often in more flexible work arrangements and in part-time jobs.

A recent ETF survey on women working in the transport sector in Europe reveals an urgent need for substantial changes to make the sector genuinely fit for women workers. The main challenges uncovered by the ETF survey include masculine culture in the workplace and unequal pay:

  • 50% of the respondents feel that their job does not provide them with good opportunities for promotion and development.
  • 35% of the respondents are unhappy with the degree to which employers or managers fail to treat employees equally, and 23% are dissatisfied with the gender imbalance in the sector.
  • 25% of the respondents think being a woman has a negative impact on their wages.

This needs to be tackled as part of the recovery and it’s not the time for the European Commission to send the working women to the back of the queue to be dealt with after the recovery. That’s why the ETF has joined the call of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) and calls upon President von der Leyen not to put the Pay Transparency Directive on hold. Moreover, the proposal must be re-framed to tackle the root causes of inequality and undervaluing of work.

To put the EU Pay Transparency Directive on ice would be a betrayal of women transport workers and the millions of women who disproportionately work in jobs that put them on the frontline of this crisis.

The ETF letter to EU Commission president von der Leyen and the key findings of the ETF survey on how to make the transport sector fit for women to work in are available under Downloads on the right-hand side.