Gloria De Piero MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities, said:
“Under the Tories it will take more than 100 years to deliver equal pay, a promise made in 1970 when the Equal Pay Act was passed. This is a fact that should shame us all. Women still earn just 80 pence for every pound a man earns in Britain.
“Across Britain I’ve met women who say life is still tough for them and their families. The economy may be recovering, but for too many women this isn’t a recovery that is reaching their pay packet. In the last year women’s actual wages fell by around £30 a year – and that’s before you even factor in inflation.
“Women should not have to wait more than 100 years for equal pay. The Tories are turning the clock back for women; more women are struggling to make work pay, earning less than the living wage and facing sky high childcare costs. This isn’t the progress our mothers, aunties and sisters fought for.
“Yet despite this, the Tories and Lib Dems claim working women have never had it so good. Women’s Minister Nicky Morgan talks about the “amazing things” the Government have achieved for women.
“So let’s suspend disbelief for a moment, and look at the facts.
“First the gender pay gap. David Cameron and Nicky Morgan both like to use the line that under their Government “the pay gap for those below the age of 40 has all but disappeared”.
“But after years of the gap narrowing under Labour since 2010 progress has stalled and last year, we saw that the pay gap is back on the rise. Under future Tory governments it would take more than 60 years to deliver equal pay – over 100 years in total since Labour’s Equal Pay Act.
“The biggest rise in self-employment for women has been in jobs like shelf stackers, waiters and cleaners with the lowest wages of any sector. Hardly surprising then to find that average earnings for the new-style ‘self-employed’ woman is £9,800 a year – less than the minimum wage if you’re working full-time.
“And this is a story true for women across Britain. A quarter of all working women now earn less than the living wage.
“With childcare costs having risen by almost a third since the election, we now have record numbers of women working part-time – paying a motherhood penalty for doing so because the hourly wage for a part time job is a 1/3rd less than the hourly rate for a full-time job.
“As many as a quarter of a million women in Britain are waking up not knowing whether they’ll even get work today because of the explosion of zero-hour contracts. As for those who aren’t in work, 60,000 young women have been out of work for over a year and the number of women over 24 who are unemployed for over two years is up since the election as well.
“When David Cameron claims that working women have never had it so good, women know this isn’t a Government that speaks for them. Only Labour will deliver on the promise of equal pay with pay transparency, tackle the scandal of low pay and expand access to free childcare to make work pay for families across Britain.
“The Government’s Women’s Business Council recently claimed: “women’s equality is in a better place than ever before”. Nicky Morgan routinely cites progress on women on boards as one of the Government’s biggest achievements for women.
“Yes there are more women on boards and that should be celebrated. But let’s remember that we’re talking about 0.001 per cent of working women. We’re on the way to reaching 25 per cent of female membership of boards 2015[LP2] , but to claim the job done is a bit premature.
“The percentage of women executives on FTSE 100 boards is still far too low at 6.9 per cent. Women are gradually getting a seat at the table, but decision-making power is still a long way off.
“This isn’t the future we dream of for our friends, daughters, sisters or our mums. But this is what David Cameron means when he says women have never had it so good.
“Only a Labour Government is committed to end exploitative zero-hour contracts, standing up for the hundreds of thousands of women who don’t know what they’ll be paid one week to the next.
“It will take a Labour Government to give thousands of women young and old trapped in long-term unemployment the chance of a real, paid job instead of a lifetime on benefits.
“A Labour Government will support working parents with three and four year olds by giving them 25 free hours of childcare a week and guaranteeing access to breakfast and afterschool clubs in Primary School.
“And just as we passed the Equal Pay Act, and closed the pay gap under successive Labour Governments, it will take a Labour Government to deliver on the promise of Equal Pay by ending pay secrecy and telling big employers to publish pay figures.
“Next May there is a big choice for women across this country. A Tory Britain with progress on equality stalled, more women on low wages, on zero-hours contracts and earning less than their male colleagues, or a Labour future that will deliver on the promise of equal pay, tackling the scandal of low pay and delivering affordable childcare for families.
“A few weeks ago David Cameron told Tory MPs that what the Government was really guilty of when it came to women was “underselling” its policies. Many women have gone cold on the Tories because the Government hasn’t shouted loudly enough about what they’ve done for them, not because its policies have let them down.
“I’m sorry David Cameron, but we’re smarter than that.
“You can’t smooth over the past four years Of low pay, worsening working conditions, rising prices and a government which looks the other way with a slick PR campaign. If the past is a guide to the future, another five years of David Cameron is five years women can’t afford.