The Equality and Human Rights Commission is supposed to be the champion of the rights of ethnic minorities, the disabled and women against discrimination. It should be in favour of equal pay.
As a previous blog revealed its reputation is rather shaky when it comes to defending equality between men and women in the Middle East. Baroness Onora O’Neill, its part time chair, talks the big talk in the UK when it comes defending women’s equal rights to men only to believe in her other position as a trustee of the American University of Sharjah that women are second class citizens compared to men who are not allowed to meet privately with them as equals. I wonder whether she is allowed to be alone with a man when she is in Sharjah.
Now it turns out that her officials are quite happy to massage figures claiming the EHRC is making great progress in narrowing the pay gap between ethnic minorities and white people, the disabled and the able-bodied and between women and men.
During recent pay negotiations with the PCS union the management claimed that its new pay deal would reduce the gender, ethnic minority and disability pay gaps. It turns out that the figures over ethnic minorities were false. Instead of narrowing the gap from 15.5 per cent to 14.5 per cent it actually widened it to nearly 17 per cent. You can read the full story in Tribune magazine this week.
While there is a marginal improvement – narrowing the gap by 0.2 per cent for the disabled to 7.7 per cent – this figure is actually almost one per cent worse than in 2011.
You might wonder what the EHRC would do if they caught a private firm fiddling the figures and opening themselves to prosecution . Any clever barrister defending that firm would just have to say – well you lie about it yourself in the ECHR.
I did put this to the EHRC Ignoring their main point of my question the press office released this statement from the Commission:
“We negotiated with the Trade Unions (including PCS), to agree how to distribute the 1 per cent pay rise we are limited to by government. We agreed and implemented their proposal to pay more to those on lower pay grades and less to those on higher grades and made a slight adjustment to this. Our adjustment was slightly more favourable towards BME staff than the Trade Unions’ initial proposals.”
Oh so the union clever enough to expose your flawed figures would be better giving up- because you can give the staff a better deal just out of the generosity of your own heart. Really?
But the key point is if we can’t trust the body that fights for equal pay to be honest about what it is doing to narrow pay gaps, who can we trust?