Regional pay scales and women workers in the north

Paying public sector workers ‘local rates’ in our three regions would hit women hard, according to figures from the GMB union

The notion of regional pay scales in the public sector has got on to the national political agenda, causing inevitable alarm in the Northerner‘s part of the world.

The prospect of further deflation and stagnation outside London seems all too likely should the notion make headway, as well as the familiar results of an over-simplified carve-up of the national cake – Nick Clegg’s Hallam constituency and George Osborne’s Tatton are not the only relatively prosperous and therefore pricey parts of the three northern regions.

The counter-arguments in favour of different scales, as a means of encouraging more jobs and further stimulating the private sector, can be read here, among other places.

The GMB union meanwhile makes an interesting contribution to the debate with figures presented to the Labour conference in Manchester which show how regional pay scales, which would almost certainly mean reductions throughout the north, would particularly affect women. Their share of pubic sector jobs is almost two thirds everywhere, rising to much higher levels in local authority areas such as North East Lincolnshire (75.7percent)

Here are the national figures:

And here are the figures by region, with the authorities with the highest percentages at the head each list, starting with the North East:

Women have long played a crucial part in the northern workforce where the concept of the double income household goes back to the days of millgirls in headscarves and Gracie Fields. Paul McCarthy, the GMB’s regional secretary in the north west, where Ed Miliband and his high command are currently guests, says:

Any plan to cut public sector pay in this region is a further attack on women who are already bearing disproportionately the burden of this recession. What worries women workers in the public sector most is the impact and effect that the governments attack on their earnings will have on their family and in particular the children. If regional pay is implemented it will also be a further devastating blow for local economies in the north west.

The Government should instead adopt and economic policy that puts money into people’s pockets, so people can go out and buy goods and services therefore injecting demand in the economy.

Martin Wainwright

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