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5,161 of 10,000 signatures

Ursula von der Leyen, head of the European Commission, David Sassoli, President of the European Parliament, Helena Dalli, Commissioner for Equality and National ministers in charge of equal pay


The 16% gender pay gap between what women and men are paid across Europe is not acceptable. We urge you to get an EU law passed that ends the absurd secrecy about pay, and exposes the reality of men being paid more than women! Experience in Portugal, Denmark and elsewhere shows that revealing the pay gap and empowering workers and their unions to deal with it in the workplace, is an effective way to ending unequal pay.

Why is this important?

It is 2020 and women in Europe are still paid 16% less than men for the same work [1], even though laws in European are meant to stop this from happening. There are even countries like Germany or Austria where this gap is above 20%! [2]

But we know how to achieve equal pay for equal work. The research - and real cases from countries like Denmark or Portugal - show clearly: equal pay is reached not only through laws but through more transparency. [3]

Workers demand equality if they know about pay discrimination. Companies start paying women more when they are forced to disclose pay statistics and must inform candidates in employment ads about the salary they propose.

Ursula von der Leyen, the new head of the European Commission promised she would tackle the pay gap within the first 100 days in office. [4]

A big promise - and, as we just learned, a disappointment. The 100 days ends 9th March, and all that happened was the Commission launching a consultation process. It’s clearly not enough. When can we expect this new law?

On 18th March our partners, the European trade unions, will meet the new Commissioner for Equality, Helena Dalli. They want to start this first meeting by showing huge public support for this new law with a clear message. Europeans want action and fast. Will you add your voice?

Learn more:

A difference of 16% means that for each 1 euro a man is paid, a woman gets 84 cents - doing the same job. And these numbers are just the tip of the iceberg. On average, a European woman is offered worse jobs and part-time positions. When kids are born, fathers are promoted while mothers start earning less [5]. If we count all this in, a European woman earns 40% less than the average man [6].

This is about more than just work. When a woman is underpaid, her kids often live in poverty, especially if she is a single mom. Of the millions of children in poverty today, one half would come out of it if women were paid the same as men [7]. When she grows old, and her only source of income is her pension, she receives 37% less than an average retired man, hence too often living in poverty [8].

The EU keeps producing documents condemning this situation -- but in the current state of affairs there is no way to enforce justice.

  1. Job ads must include information about the proposed pay
  2. Job contracts must not include pay secrecy clauses
  3. Workers are allowed to ask what gender-neutral methods the company uses to evaluate work and the company is obliged to give an answer
  4. Companies must prepare annual reports about pays and bonuses, with a break by gender and age. The reports must name the pay ratio between the CEO and the lowest-paid employee
  5. The reports must cover not only permanent contract workers but also self-employed and platform workers

If we take no action, it could take decades for us to achieve pay equality. Women can’t wait that long. Europe can’t wait that long.


  1. This is the average gender pay gap in the EU: https://www.etuc.org/en/publication/gender-pay-gap-end-secrecy
  2. https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Gender_pay_gap_statistics
  3. Study showing that the pay gap is almost non-existent when pay is set transparently as compared to 20.6% when pay information is withheld: https://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/@dgreports/@gender/documents/briefingnote/wcms_410196.pdf . A real-life case from Denmark: https://news.ku.dk/all_news/2018/12/wage-transparency-works/
  4. The 24-page political framework of Commission President Designate Ursula von der Leyen – including her promise to come forward with a new directive on pay transparency: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/sites/beta-political/files/political-guidelines-nextcommission_en.pdf
  5. https://www.economist.com/graphic-detail/2019/01/28/how-big-is-the-wage-penalty-for-mothers
  6. https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/tgm/graph.do?tab=graph&plugin=1&language=en&pcode=teqges01&toolbox=type
  7. Based on research from the US: https://iwpr.org/publications/impact-equal-pay-poverty-economy/
  8. https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/BRIE/2019/631033/IPOL_BRI(2019)631033_EN.pdf

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