Eclectic Blue

Different for girls?

Comments Off on Different for girls? 04 March 2018

Fair play to the multimillionaire actor Michael Sheen who says he would take a pay cut if it meant being paid the same as a female actor. No. Forget the multimillionaire dig I made. Fair play, Michael. If only all of us men felt the same way. There are reasons why not all of us do.

A recent opinion poll suggested that the vast majority of men would not take a pay cut if it meant being paid the same as a female co-worker, but this is not an equal question. For example, if you earn many millions of pounds, a loss of a few thousand or even million will not affect the weekly Waitrose order. If you earn £7.50 an hour – as many millions of UK citizens do – then if You Gov asked if you, the man, would be prepared to take a pay cut to be paid the same as a woman, your answer would be simple: this employer is not legally allowed to pay any less. That’s an extreme example but there are others.

You are a working class bloke earning £25k per annum. A woman who works across the room from you, doing what appears to be the same job, earns £22k. Do you approach the manager to say how disgusted you are and could he, possibly, pay you a little less? After all, £25k is rather a lot unless that is you want to own your own place, have children and even have the odd foreign holiday. This is how debates like this get skewed.

In many areas, like the public sector, there are defined pay scales so if there is discrimination it is more likely to be the number of women who make it to higher grades than being paid different amounts for the same job. In jobs where there are no pay scales as such, well that might be different. My guess is that a lot of these jobs are at the top end of the scale anyway. For instance, it is very wrong that a male BBC presenter earns vastly more than a female BBC presenter and I don’t know why that would be. But the lower you go, the less difference it all makes. In a race to the bottom, equality usually means everyone being treated badly.

The BBC row left me strangely cold. Of course the inequality was wrong but I still saw a group of fabulously wealthy women arguing that they were not even more fabulously well off. In the meantime, much nearer home, I saw groups of women working night shifts in care homes, caring for the demented and the incontinent and sometimes cleaning up after the dead, on £7.50 an hour. If they were under 24, as many were, they received far less than that.

Michael Sheen is onto something. He’s raised his voice above the parapet and people will listen for a short time. For the many millions at the bottom of the pile, there is no one listening to them and in our increasingly Broken Britain hardly anyone cares, either.

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