If the Tory press cares about women’s pay, why is it attacking trade unions?

Newspapers praise Cameron on gender pay gap, but trash the best means of closing it


Two seemingly unrelated stories in today’s papers together reveal a big contradiction in their editorial spin.

The first is David Cameron’s plans to force companies with more than 250 employees to publish their average wages for male and female staff. This appears on the front page of the Times and the Telegraph and has pride of place in the Daily Mail and Daily Express. 

The second is the continued campaign of defamation about the country’s trade unions ahead of the restrictive new Trades Unions Bill.

In the first story, the prime minister says the move

“…will cast sunlight on the discrepancies and create the pressure we need for change, driving women’s wages up.”

But from where is this pressure supposed to come? And by what means will it be applied?

It seems obvious that if women in a workplace decide the published wage gap should be closed, (as the prime minister apparently wants them to do), collective bargaining would be conducted through their trade union.

In other words, the Tory newspapers say they care about women’s pay on one page, then trash the best means of increasing it on the next!

Is it really the best means? Here are some facts.

Members of trade unions receive on average 16.7 percent more than non-union workers, according to government figures for 2014.

In the public sector, it’s 21.6 percent.

The very same Telegraph reported last year that union members were on average nearly £4,000 better off than non-union members.

Their graph makes the point rather well: (click to enlarge)

Unions pay graph

This wages boost is even more startling for women.

The same government figures show that female members of trade unions earn a whopping 30 percent more than their non-union sisters.

That’s an average hourly wage of £14.33 versus £11 for non-union member female workers.

If David Cameron really cared about working women he would not be taking away their tax credits, child tax credits (if they have a third child in the future), and curbing their ability to strike for better pay and conditions.

If the Tory press was not so blinded by ideology and slavish devotion to the government, it would connect the wires of its own stories and see what nonsense it pumps out every day.

Adam Barnett is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow MediaWatch on Twitter

Read more: 

Daily Mail swallows Osborne’s myth about women ‘winning’ in his budget

Anti-union press wants train staff to act like robots. But who is the real bully here?

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