THE Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) accused the Prime Minister of being a hypocrite over his bid to end the gender pay gap by forcing firms to reveal male and female wages.

STUC deputy general secretary Dave Moxham said it was “a bit rich” coming from a man who has attacked union rights, abolished tribunal fees, cut public-sector jobs and wants to scrap the Human Rights Act.

David Cameron says the move will “cast sunlight” on discrimination against women and lift their pay, while companies with more than 250 staff will have to reveal each gender’s average salary.

He also claims that raising the minimum wage to £7.20 an hour will help millions of female workers as he announced a consultation to hammer out the detail of how the new gender pay gap regulations will be designed.

It will also seek views on what more can be done to encourage girls to consider the widest range of careers, support parents returning to work and help women of all ages reach their full potential and have the security of a well-paid job.

Cameron said the move comes as the UK’s FTSE 100 reached the Lord Davies’ target of 25 per cent of board positions being filled by women – set in 2011.

Moxham hit out: “It is a bit rich for a man who has attacked trade union rights, abolished tribunal fees, cut public-sector employment and wants to do away with the European Human Rights Act to lecture anybody about equal pay.

“The forms of employment which are predominately undertaken by women are underpaid and undervalued, and without stronger employment protection to eradicate unwanted part-time work and zero-hours contracts, we have severe doubts as to whether the so-called ‘ambitions’ of the Prime Minister with respect to equal pay will be met.

“How it will work, I suppose, is that companies will at least be forced to publish their audit rather than do it voluntarily. However, there is no suggestion that there is any form of sanction that will be available so David Cameron seems to think that all these people in the labour market will be able to choose between the good and bad companies, which is a complete illusion in terms of the choices that are available to anyone, let alone women, who are forced to undertake any work they can in order to make ends meet.

“This 25 per cent of women on boards – they are arguing that they have reached the target – but if you scratch away at the figures you find that most of the people in those positions are in non-executive positions so although they have hit their number, they haven’t really done what the purpose of the target is, which is to increase the influence of women in the boardroom so that at least some cultural change can take place in companies.

“Similarly with their claim that they have reduced the pay gap over the last couple of years, this has only happened because there has been such a precipitous fall in male earnings and a slightly less precipitous fall in women’s earnings.

“It is a bit like saying ‘I punched you in the face, but I punched someone else in the face harder, so you feel better about that’. It is a meaningless statistic. It is just the fact that wages have fallen so precipitously that they are able to make this temporary claim and there is no reason to believe that the gender pay gap might not actually increase in the next two years as employment increases.”

The gap in pay between men and women in the UK is at its lowest level for 15 years but compares poorly with the rest of the world.

The UK has one of the worst pay gaps in Europe ranking fifth, according to figures from


Women’s equality campaigners said Cameron’s pay gap plan was not a “magic bullet” and insisted more needed to be done.

Emma Ritch, executive director of Engender, said: “The pay gap is still a reality for women in 21st-century Scotland, with some sectors seeing a staggering 40 per cent plus difference in average men’s and women’s hourly pay.

“Requiring large businesses to publish company-level gaps isn’t a magic bullet, but it will start to ensure that accountability for gender pay differentials in the private sector starts to reflect accountability in the Scottish public sector.

“The single figure of a headline pay gap includes potentially discriminatory pay differences, as well as differences underpinned by a lack of flexible working, failure to challenge male-dominated workplace cultures, and different rates of progression for men and women.

“Over time, it will give us a sense of the companies that are working to tackle the lingering effects of stereotyping about women’s capabilities and talents, and those that are complacently failing to act.

“The majority of Scotland’s companies, though, are small and medium enterprises. This measure will have little impact on them, and the women who work for them.”

Close the Gap’s development officer Lindsey Millen described the move to force private-sector companies to disclose their gender pay gaps as “absolutely necessary”.

She added: “Voluntary action has not worked; the initiative Think, Act, Report saw a mere five companies report their figures, out of over 250 that signed up.

“While requiring companies to publish their gender pay gaps is a welcome step forward, if that publishing is not backed with action to tackle unequal pay it will be effectively meaningless.

“The introduction of tribunal fees has seen a drop in equal pay cases, and relying on individuals or groups of women to pursue costly equal pay claims will not result in the structural changes needed to eradicate the gender pay gap, and women’s wider inequality.”

The SNP welcomed the decision to bring forward measures on gender pay but has highlighted that Tory social security cuts will have the biggest impact on women.