Equal Pay for Women
How proud I was to hear Jess Phillips, Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley speak in parliament for equal pay for women. It so happens that I grew up in this constituency. It is about time the ordinary people of Yardley had an MP to stand up for fairness, equality and justice. Women work exceptionally hard, sometimes unpaid, and in paid employment it is scandalous that they are not equally rewarded.
Jess Phillips challenged the Tory MP, who had the audacity to laugh at the claims for equal pay for women as reported in the Birmingham Mail.
Birmingham MP Jess Phillips shouted “you are a disgrace” across the Commons chamber as Conservative equalities minister Nicky Morgan laughed at Labour proposal to ensure women are paid as much as men.
Jess Phillips has revealed that she “lost it” in the Chamber of the House of Commons – after a Tory Minister taunted her for losing a vote on women’s pay.
Ms Phillips (Lab Yardley) had a blazing row with Nicky Morgan, the Education Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities.
She said: “When the votes were declared and we lost, I lost it.”
It came after Conservative MPs voted against proposals put forward by Labour to publish a report every year revealing how much men and women were paid in different industries – to highlight the fact that women are still paid less than men.
Ms Phillips backed the idea, telling the House of Commons: “We have a chance to show our mothers, wives, daughters and constituents that they matter and their rights matter.”
She said: “I sat opposite Nicky Morgan. As they declared the votes I just said ‘this is a real shame, it is a disgrace you didn’t vote for this when you are the equalities minister’.
“She basically laughed and said ‘it hurts to lose doesn’t it?’”
Ms Phillips said she shouted across the Chamber, telling Mrs Morgan: “You are laughing in the face of women’s equality. If you had seen what I have seen you wouldn’t think that laughing about gender equality was appropriate.”
She added: “Her and her colleague just sat there laughing, so I said ‘you are a disgrace”, repeatedly.”
Ms Phillips said: “The Minister for Women and Equalities should show some class.”
Huffngton post reports.
Ms Phillips says
“This week I didn’t behave well. Really bad in fact. I mean I slow clapped the home secretary as she headed for her lobby. I then followed it with, what I will call a robust exchange, with the minister for women and equalities Nicky Morgan across the chamber.
If my mom was still alive she might have slapped my legs for my breaches. On this occasion though I think she may have joined me. Because my mom, the mother of three sons, and me her only daughter, whispered in my ear every day from birth, ‘there’s nothing they can do that you can’t.’
This Wednesday in Parliament the talk was of equal pay. The opposition put in front of the Government the motion to task the Equalities and Human Rights Commission with performing an ‘Annual Equal Pay Check’ to collate and analyse information published and recommend actions to ensure we close the gender pay gap this generation. Now I know this is not the ground breaking work of Barbara Castle and the Dagenham women. But it would help to hold businesses to account for their actions on the gender pay gap. It would have said “you know the fact that for every pound a man earns a women earns only 83p (in my constituency) well we know that sucks.”
The MP previously worked helping women who had been abused or were victims of violence.
In her role as a Birmingham councillor she was also chair of a group bringing together the council, police and other agencies to reduce violence against women, which involved examining cases of women in the region who had been killed.
“I have spent my career working with women who have been beaten, raped and exploited. What all failed to understand in the debate, is that women are beaten and raped exactly because they have less value in society. To me it was not about money and wages it was about worth. So as the government marched through the no lobby it felt like we women were worthless. So who can we blame when this week two of us, the worthless, are murdered?”
Ms Phillips also revealed that she “slow clapped” the Home Secretary, Theresa May, as she voted against the proposal.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Ms Phillips highlighted Birmingham City Council’s massive £1.2 billion equal pay bill.
The council is paying compensation to women who were employed by the authority and paid less than men for doing jobs of similar status, and has been forced to sell the NEC Group for around £307 million to help meet the cost.
The MP said: “Like so many local authorities across the country, Birmingham has paid the price for the lack of equal pay in exceptionally costly – and, I am afraid to say, bankrupting – court settlements, with care workers, social workers, cleaners and dinner ladies paid less than bin men.”
“After all, why should we value those who look after our elderly relatives and feed our children?”
She added: “I believe that the council is selling the family silver, including the National Exhibition Centre, to settle those claims. I will not criticise it for that.”
“The council should have paid the women more in the first place.”
Quite right, Ms Phillips. I am with you all the way. We are all feminists. We believe in equal worth.