London mayoral candidate Ken Livingstone has vowed to put an equal pay commissioner in place if he is elected next May to tackle the “scandal” of unequal pay.
The Labour candidate said he would establish a new commissioner and hand them the responsibility of closing the gender pay gap in the capital. The equal pay commissioner would index the pay gap at London’s biggest companies and monitor pay trends, Livingstone told the Fem11 Conference.
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London’s gender pay gap was measured at 23 per cent in 2008, according to Livingstone, who said the national gender pay gap currently stands at 17.1 per cent.
“For too long London has been too unequal a city. I am committed to tackling the scandal of unequal pay in the capital, which has increased under the impact of the recession and Tory policies at national and mayoral level,” said Livingstone. “The pay gap affects both ends of the pay scale, with women increasingly forced into part-time work and out of public sector jobs, services and retailing.”
Livingstone plans to ensure that every business which wins a contract from the Greater London Authority (GLA) group will have to abide by the conditions for equal pay set out by the new commissioner. Firms which begin to close the pay gap will be championed by the equal pay commissioner, Livingstone said, while other businesses will be offered advice and support.
Equal pension rights, flexible working, in-work training and representation of women in every level of the workplace will also be on the agenda of the potential new commissioner.
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It is feared the pay gap could widen in the capital next year, a statement on Livingstone’s website said, while women have been hit hard by the Government’s cuts, public sector job losses, changes to the pension age and reductions to childcare support.
Livingstone said: “I am pledging to establish an equal pay commissioner for women in London if elected next year. My equal pay commissioner will be a champion for London women’s pay. I am determined to do what I can to prevent women being the main casualties of the current crisis and to ensure that talents of all Londoners are rewarded fairly. I will stand up for London’s women and will always put their interests first.”