The political persuasion efforts have paid off: on 5 April 2022 despite Conservative resistance, the European Parliament’s negotiating mandate on the European Pay Transparency Directive was confirmed. From the AK’s point of view, the rapid implementation of the Directive is necessary to be able to close the pay gap between men and women as quickly as possible. Hence, the forthcoming trilogue negotiations between EU Parliament, Council and Commission have to be carried out swiftly.
Art 2 EU Treaty (TEU) enshrines equality between women and men. However, in reality there is still a long way to go until actual equality has been achieved. The gender pay gap in the EU still stands at 14 % on average. However, prior to MEPs agreeing to the start of the negotiations between EU Parliament, Council and Commission, there had been a high level of uncertainty. According to Evelyn Regner, Chief negotiator of this dossier from the Social Democrat group, an alliance of the Right and Conservatives – including a majority of ÖVP MEPs – had intended to torpedo the negotiation compromise by a negative vote, thereby delaying a rapid start of the negotiations.
Numerous labour representatives such as AK and the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) increased political pressure by calling on MEPs to vote in favour of Parliament’s position in respect of pay transparency. In its letter to MEPs, AK emphasised the special significance of the Pay Transparency Directive for Austria: at 20 %, Austria reports one of the highest gender pay gaps, even though the country has one of the highest rates of collective agreement coverage in the EU. The Austrian example shows that additional tools, such as the Pay Transparency Directive, are needed to achieve a wage convergence for women and men in respect of the same or equivalent work.
Parliament’s far-reaching position
According to AK President Anderl, the European Parliament’s adopted report, which now forms the basis for the negotiations with EU Commission and Council, represents a balanced compromise. A crucial point was reducing the threshold value from 250 to 50 employees, from which companies have to write mandatory income reports. By contrast, the threshold of 250 employees would have exempt two thirds of all European employees in SMEs from this important area of pay transparency.
To enable unions to conduct collective bargaining in respect of equal pay, ETUC welcomes the fact that the compromise includes the clear ban of salary confidentiality clauses as well as trade union rights, ensuring they can bargain collectively for equal pay.
AK EUROPA: Open letter to MEPs on pay transparency (German only)