UGT highlights gender inequalities

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In May 2003, Spain's UGT trade union confederation highlighted the unequal situation of women and men in employment, and notably a gender pay gap of around 30%. Women are also, it is claimed, subject to occupational segregation, higher unemployment and less stable employment.

On 13 May, the General Workers’ Confederation (Unión General de Trabajadores, UGT) issued a press release criticising the high level of gender pay discrimination in Spain. It cites in support of this view a recent report by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), entitled La hora de la igualdad en el trabajo (Time for equality at work).

According to figures from the UGT Women's Institute (Instituto de la Mujer), based on data from the National Institute of Statistics (Instituto Nacional de Estadística, INE), in 2000 Spanish women earned on average 30% less than men, which is double the average difference in the EU (TN0201101S and ES0105242F). UGT claims that the government is unwilling to deal with this issue, and states that this is shown by the absence in recent surveys of pay figures disaggregated by gender. UGT also argues against the views of employers, which justify the lower pay of women on the grounds of their greater absence from work, for reasons including maternity leave and childcare leave. UGT states that reliable studies indicate that absence is in fact greater among men, and that the situation is aggravated by the fact that paternity in Spain leave is not a right for fathers but a right derived from the mother. The union also states that it is unfair that those who defend a model of the family in which the central role is played by women should favour a system in which women are paid less when they get a job (ES0303105F and ES0211201N).

Furthermore, UGT states that, although horizontal gender segregation in the labour market is decreasing, and women are increasingly being employed in a wider range of sectors, vertical segregation remains unaltered, so that women are generally found in job categories with lower pay. UGT agrees with the argument in the ILO report that the determining factor in pay is not the nature of the work carried out, but gender, social class and other personal attributes.

UGT also cites a number of other significant figures relating to discrimination against women in the labour market, based on Eurostat statistics, as set out in the table below.

Some key indicators on women and men in the labour market, Spain and EU 15
. Gender Spain EU 15
Employment rate (%), 2001 Women 43.0 55.0
Men 72.4 73.1
Both sexes 57.7 64.1
Unemployment rate (%), 2002 Women 16.3 8.6
Men 7.8 6.8
Both sexes 11.2 7.6
Long-term unemployment rate (persons unemployed for over 12 months as % of active population), 2001 Women 6.3 3.7
Men 2.3 2.7
Both sexes 3.9 3.1
Number of serious industrial accidents per 100,000 employed people (1998=100), 2000 (provisional figures for EU) Women 113 104
Men 109 98
Both sexes 108 99
Temporary employment. (% of total employment), 2001 Women 34.1 14.5
Men 31.6 13.4
Part-time employment (% of total employment), 2001 Women 17.3 33.8
Men 8.1 18.0

Source: UGT.

The table indicates that women are in a considerably less advantageous position all these areas in comparison with men. Spanish women have worse conditions than the EU average, with very high levels of unemployment, long-term unemployment, serious industrial accidents and temporary employment, and far lower rates of employment and higher rates of part-time employment (the latter is less common in Spain than in most of the EU).

In summary, UGT claims that Spain is one of the EU countries in which women have fewest possibilities of access to the labour market and worse working conditions than men (ES0206209F).

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