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More collective bargaining 'could close gender pay gap'

AN EXPANSION of workplace collective bargaining could close the gender pay gap and win a fairer deal for all, workers’ rights experts said yesterday.

Think tank Class and the Institute for Employment Rights found that 50 per cent of Britain’s population have just 9 per cent of the country’s wealth.

The Trade Unions and Economic Inequality report charts the decline of trade union membership in line with union-busting laws brought in by Tory class warrior Thatcher.

But it found data in 22 countries suggesting that women are paid more fairly where collective bargaining is strongest.

Even after the 2008 financial crisis, which resulted in major wage stagnation, having a collective bargaining agreement in place meant an average of 14.5 per cent extra cash for workers.

And in industries with a strong trade union presence pay inequality between employees and bosses is much reduced.

Institute of Employment Rights director Carolyn Jones said: “80 per cent of the British public agreed that trade unions are essential to protect workers’ interests. This high level of public confidence in trade unions has been recorded consistently in surveys over the last 40 years.

“Yet despite this restrictive trade union laws have led to a decline in trade union membership.

“If the government is serious about reducing economic inequality it must give trade unions better collective and sectoral bargaining rights and a stronger political voice.

“The data shows trade unions have an indispensable role in a fairer economy.”

The report calls for the strengthening of collective bargaining in workplaces and improving sectoral bargaining to crack down on scheming bosses who attempt to undercut one another.

It also expresses an aspiration to give unions a stronger voice in political discourse.

Calls have grown in recent years for the repeal of anti-trade union laws which Labour PMs Tony Blair and Gordon Brown refused to touch.

Last year Labour’s youth wing Young Labour submitted a resolution to the party’s annual conference calling for shadow cabinet members to negotiate a new collective bargaining framework with the TUC.

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