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Other action by the social partners


Trade union federations in the Netherlands have been active in addressing wage differences between women and men. The FNV, the Dutch union federation, has carried out awareness raising activities and collective bargaining on equal pay, and has developed a wage indicator tool with the University of Amsterdam-AIAS to enable an employer or an employee to calculate the correct wage for a job. The wage indicator has been adopted by the central Labour Foundation. The social partners have also participated, with the government, in the annual Equal Pay Day to raise awareness of the gender pay gap amongst employers and employees.

United Kingdom

Unions in the United Kingdom have a long history of campaigning for equal pay. Many of the campaigns and union initiatives on equal pay have been documented in the ”equal pay archives” with video clips, films and archive materials on equal pay, as well as oral history interviews with women and union representatives in equal pay cases.

The public sector trade union, Unison, has been campaigning for equal pay for many years and has developed negotiating guidelines for union representatives and an equal pay strategy. Unison has supported many women in taking equal pay cases through the courts and in negotiating the two landmark agreements that led to the re-evaluation of women’s work, known as the Single Status Agreement in local government and Agenda for Change in health.

Another initiative, “Close the Gap”, has been developed in partnership with the Scottish government, employers and unions to address the gender pay gap. It provides resources, guidance and information to raise awareness and to promote a positive approach to reducing the gender pay gap. Project partners include the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Skills Development Scotland, Equality and Human Rights Commission, and the Scottish Trades Union Congress.


The Belgium trade union federations signed a Charter on Gender Mainstreaming in 2004. This led to a new approach for the trade unions and a system for integrating gender into all of its activities, including the balanced representation of women in decision-making and in collective bargaining.

Closing the gender pay gap has been one of the key priorities and this has also included the organisation of an annual Equal Pay Day to raise awareness of pay inequalities between women and men.

The Institute for the Equality of Women and Men has also been involved in reforming job classification systems under the federal EVA project. The objective is to reduce pay differences between women and men. The social partners have also addressed discrimination in job classification in order to promote a gender neutral approach in pay systems and produced a useful checklistpdf.

More information on the pay gap in Belgium can be found in an annual reportpdf issued by the Minister for Employment and Equal Opportunities.

What can the social partners do to close the gender pay gap?

Social partners have a crucial role to play in addressing the gender pay gap in the workplace. Here are some ways that they can take action:

  • Carry out gender pay audits/surveys and action plans to identify gender bias and discrimination in job classification systems and address the under-representation of women in senior and high paid positions;
  • Develop workplace equal pay policies;
  • Enhance the value placed on women’s jobs through job evaluation systems free from gender bias. This can address discriminatory grading schemes and reveal hidden assumptions made about the value of women’s and men’s skills and jobs;
  • Tackle occupational segregation where women are clustered into female dominated and low-paid job categories or grades;
  • Improve access to higher paid jobs that are typically carried out by men, through skills training and career development for women;
  • Promote equality in workplace collective bargaining;
  • Raise awareness of the gender pay gap in collective bargaining teams so that pay equality is integral to wage setting;
  • Develop a working time policy that allows for positive flexibility and family-friendly working hours for male and female workers;
  • Improve the status and protection of part-time work and ensure that there is equity between full-time and part-time hourly pay and conditions of employment.

Please find here all the documents related to the gender pay gap.