The UK’s largest union Unite has revealed the gap between average pay for its male and female employees has widened, with the union being accused of “hypocrisy”.
A new Unite report showed the “mean gender pay gap” for its 1,072 employees increased by 0.6 per cent in the past year, despite the trade union often speaking out about gender inequality in the workplace.
Men on average get paid 18.3 per cent more at the major trade union and 68.7 per cent of its highest paying jobs are taken by males, which is a 6.3 per cent reduction on previous years.
The report said the “median gender pay gap” was now 28.4 per cent at the left-wing union, which is down 0.6 per cent over the past year.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham, who was elected to the post in August 2021, has made numerous statements in the past about the necessity for businesses to reduce their gender pay gaps.
In November, Graham tweeted she has “witnessed too much handwringing from negotiators when it comes to delivering at the bargaining table for women” and that “Unite will take equalities into the heart of the workplace”.
Unite is Labour’s largest financial backer, however its leaders have threatened to pull funding if Sir Keir Starmer continues to move the party away from the socialist policies of Jeremy Corbyn.
A moderate Labour MP said the new report’s figures were an example of “typical Unite hypocrisy”.
The free market Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA) think tank also hit out at the trade union’s perceived hypocrisy.
The IEA’s Annabel Denham said: “The news that Unite’s mean gender pay gap has grown will be cause for much soul-searching at an organisation that lambasts the private sector on these grounds and helps feed the misconception that pay gaps are the result of workplace discrimination.
“But the fact remains that gender pay gap reporting data are almost entirely meaningless. Because they fail to break down by key differentials – from job and experience to whether an employee is working part or full-time – they offer no insight into fair pay for men and women in work.”
A Unite spokesperson appeared to blame the figures on Graham’s predecessor, and close ally to Jeremy Corbyn, Len MccLuskey.
“She has inherited a gender pay gap which she is determined to address,” they said.
“As Sharon herself says, the days of explaining away our pay gap as a result of men being in top jobs are over. We have a gap and it needs to be closed.
“To that end, Sharon is establishing the processes right across our union that will support our talented women staff to come forward into more senior posts.”