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Women working part-time across the North West are struggling on low pay as research published today (Thursday) by the TUC shows that at least a third of women working part time earn less than the living wage. In parts of the North West, the problem is even greater, with nearly three quarters of all female part time workers in West Lancashire paid below the living wage – the highest of any local authority in the UK.

Today (28 August, which is two-thirds of the way through 2014) is effectively the last day this year that women working part-time get paid. This is because they earn just 66p for every pound earned by men working full-time (which is a pay gap of 34.2 per cent). One of the main reasons for this huge gender pay divide is the large concentration of women doing low-paid, part-time work, says the TUC.

Across the UK, around two in five part-time jobs pay less than the living wage. But TUC analysis of official figures from the House of Commons Library paints a dire picture of low paid part time work for women across the region. With West Lancashire the national high of 73.9%, in Pendle three in every five women (61.5%) working part-time are paid below the living wage whilst the majority of women working part time in St. Helen’s (56.2%), Blackburn with Darwen (54.3%), Bolton (50.2%) and Rochdale (50.1%) earn less than the living wage, which is currently £7.65 an hour.

Lancaster has the lowest proportion of women working part time for less than the living wage at just 33.4%, followed by Manchester on 34.1% and Preston on 24.8%. The fact that two-thirds of women working part-time now earn above the living wage in these areas shows what can be done when unions, employers and campaigners come together to tackle low pay, says the TUC.

With women accounting for almost three-quarters of Britain’s six-million strong part-time workforce, the lack of skilled, decently-paid, part-time jobs affects women’s pay and their career prospects far more than it does men, says the TUC.

The TUC would like to see more employers paying the living wage. This would help tackle the growing scourge of in-work poverty and make big inroads into closing what it sees as the scandalous 34 per cent part-time gender pay gap.

The TUC believes that local authorities should lead by example by becoming living wage employers themselves. Several local authorities in the North West, such as Preston, Blackpool Salford and Wirral are already living wage employers but many more need to become accredited, says the TUC.

At both central and local government level, employers can boost take-up of the living wage by encouraging private companies that win public contracts to pay a living wage to their staff. Just this week, the North West TUC has written to all North West local authorities to ask if they pay the living wage as part of a wider campaign on employment standards and if they will work together with them to become living wage employers.

The TUC also wants to see more jobs advertised on a part-time basis, ending the requirement that women have to be in post for six months before they have the right to request flexible working. Many women feel unable to ask about the possibility of a shorter working week during a job interview for fear it could adversely affect their chances of success, says the TUC.

North West TUC Regional Secretary Lynn Collins said: “In-work poverty is growing throughout the North West and it’s often women that bear the brunt of low pay.

“The living wage was created so that work can provide staff with a basic standard of living. But in places like West Lancashire and Pendle, most women working part-time are way off earning this. But they aren’t the only ones and the figures show that much more can be done across Chesire, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Merseyside.

“Women would gain most from a greater take-up of the living wage by employers. Councils can lead the way by becoming living wage employers themselves. But they also need to work with local employers and unions to use the living wage to tackle in-work poverty throughout the area and we hope they will respond positively to the letters we have sent this week offering to do just that.”

NOTES TO EDITORS:

Women part time workers paid below the living wage by local authority

Local authority area

Percentage of women working part time paid less than the living wage

1

West Lancashire

73.9

2

Pendle

61.5

3

St Helens

56.2

4

Blackburn with Darwen

54.3

5

Bolton

50.2

6

Rochdale

50.1

7

Sefton

49.6

8

Oldham

49.5

9

Rossendale

49.4

10

Trafford

48.6

=

Knowsley

48.6

12

Liverpool

46.8

13

Chorley

44.4

14

Bury

43.6

15

Tameside

43.3

16

Wyre

42.9

17

Warrington

41.8

18

Stockport

41.4

19

Blackpool

40.6

20

Salford

40.2

=

Wirral

40.2

22

Halton

39.6

23

Wigan

39

24

Fylde

38.2

25

Chesire West & Chester

37.9

26

South Ribble

37.4

27

Chesire East

36

28

Preston

34.8

29

Manchester

34.1

30

Lancaster

33.4

- The TUC analysis does not include men working part-time as figures are not available for most local authority areas. This is because there are too few men working part-time to have statistically significant figures by local area. Figures for women working part-time are available for 341 of the UK’s 406 local authority areas.

- A breakdown of the number of people paid below the living wage by local authority area and parliamentary constituency is available at www.tuc.org.uk/sites/default/files/House%20of%20Commons%20LW%20data.xlsx

- The TUC analysis of the availability of part-time work in the best and worst paid occupations is available at http://www.tuc.org.uk/economic-issues/labour-market/equality-issues/gender-equality/highest-paid-occupations-are-%E2%80%98no-go%E2%80%99

- Equal Pay Day for part-time workers is based on the fact women working part-time earn 34.2 per cent less per hour than men (based on mean hourly earnings excluding overtime). This means women effectively stop being paid on the 204th day of the year – 28 August. The full-time gender pay gap is 15.7 per cent. This means that Equal Pay Day for full-time women is Tuesday 4 November this year. Further analysis from the TUC and the Fawcett Society will be published around this anniversary.

- All TUC press releases can be found at www.tuc.org.uk

- Follow the TUC on Twitter: @tucnews

- Congress 2014 will be held in the BT Convention Centre, Liverpool, from Sunday 7 September to Wednesday 10 September. Free media passes can be obtained by visiting www.tuc.org.uk/media-credentials and completing an online form. Applications must be in by noon on Wednesday 27 August. Any received later than that will be processed in Liverpool and will cost £75.

Contacts:

Media enquiries:
Jay McKenna   T: 0151 236 5432    M: 07788 414578    E: jmckenna@tuc.org.uk