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Equal rights in danger of going too far

No one can disagree with equal rights, not just for women but all people in our society. I don’t know anyone that is against creating a fair and just society, but in doing this via legislation rather than market forces and best practice we have opened the door to the politically correct brigade.

As I write this blog, Birmingham City Council have just announced likely cuts to services as a result of losing their equal pay case against thousands of its own workers.

As a resident of Walsall and the son of a former mayor of the town, I took an interest in the last pay out by Walsall Council for the same equal pay claim. The £50m cost to the council was well managed but not without casualties, now services such as local community care have been predominantly outsourced and where the council still provide the service, they do not provide adequate staff numbers leaving many carers feeling vulnerable going into homes late at night on their own instead of pairs.

There are many workers out there who will enjoy a few thousand pound payout before Christmas and I'm sure plenty more will say ‘the council got themselves into this mess’. I personally however have some sympathy for the thankless task the council now has in making such drastic cuts.

Of course one of the main beneficiaries to this will be law firms who in some cases take as much as 25 per cent of the total claim. The sensible thing to have done would have been to have put right payments in the future, backdating payments from several years ago would put most private businesses out of business so why should the public sector be seen as such an easy target.

I also believe our system of political correctness and anti discrimination have gone too far and everybody male and female needs a reality check. This is a tough economic period and these payouts should not be going through if the cost is hundreds of job losses and cuts to services.

Whilst this particular set of cases may be annoying to those disadvantaged, it seems political correctness can also work the other way. Shelia’s Wheels are now being told they can no longer offer cheap car insurance to women drivers because it discriminates against men despite the evidence that women are generally more cautious behind the wheel and have fewer serious accidents.

Am I alone in thinking that market forces work perfectly fine in both instances? The initial case of female workers being paid less than their male counter parts is actually a bit misleading because the jobs were being compared to bin men for example who were considered the same skill level if not less. But here lies the problem for government to grapple, there are far more people available to work in the care sector than want to empty bins all day.  Despite the council payout, private firms employing care staff are still paying a similar rate of pay.

In my role we are forced to pay our sales team higher wages than highly qualified journalists. This is driven purely on market forces with in no way reflects my personal views. We pay competitive wages to attract staff and its always based on supply and demand rather than how important the role is.

jason pitt

jason pitt

Editor of Business Report newspaper and business director of Made in the Midlands and Pressvine. Jason has been involved in publishing newspapers and magazines for more than 15 years.

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