Dutch union calls for elimination of gender wage gap on Equal Pay Day


Union FNV is calling attention to the wage gap between men and women on Friday, Equal Pay Day in the Netherlands. The union organized a debate with Dutch politicians and companies on the differences in salaries between male and female employees. According to FNV vice president Kitty Jong, it is high time for companies and politicians to close this gap, NOS reports.

"Equal pay for equal work, also between men and women, just belongs to the Netherlands of now", Jong said. A survey FNV did among over a thousand of its members showed that 96 percent of respondents do not find the differences in salaries between the genders reasonable. 

On Equal Pay Day women symbolically lay down their work on the day from which they start working for free. In the Netherlands the gender wage gap is 16.1 percent. Which means that a male employee in the Netherlands on average earns 16 percent more per hour than a female employee. If you were to follow the principle of equal pay, women are therefore only paid for 84 percent of the year. Which means they work unpaid from today, November 3rd.

The gender wage gap is slowly decreasing in the Netherlands. In 2008 it was around 20 percent, according to the broadcaster. Though this decrease is slower than in some other countries. Earlier this week the World Economic Forum published its global gender equality ranking, which showed that the Netherlands plummeted from 16th place last year, to 32nd place this year. In the field of equal income, the Netherlands is 82nd on the list. 

Iceland came first on the global gender equality list.  According to the World Economic Forum, the key to the country's success is that it has concrete plans to achieve equality and the political will to go through with them.

Kitty Jong thinks the Netherlands can learn from Iceland's example. "Every three years companies must show that they reward women and men equally and there is a legal quota for women in the top of big companies", she said to NOS. 

Figures from Statistics Netherlands shows that the gender wage gap in the country differs largely by industry. The gap is smallest in water companies and waste management with 2.1 percent. The government is also doing relatively well in this field, with a gender wage gap of 3.3 percent. The wage gap is largest in the financial services with 29 percent. The health care sector also has a remarkably large gender wage gap, considering the large number of women in the sector, at 24.4 percent.

According to Esther de Jong of the Atria knowledge institute for emancipation and women's history, there are several explanations for the gender wage gap. "Many women work in industries where wages are lower than the industries where many men work", she said to NOS. "Women also often work in lower paid positions than men." According to De Jong, this is because women work part-time much more often than men and also less easily move to higher functions. 



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