Women in worker co-ops receive equal pay, while private sector has wage imbalance

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Although inequality in pay between men and women remains high in Europe, a new survey shows that salaries in worker co-operatives tend to foster gender equality.

According to the findings of the European Project – Active Women in Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), there is more gender equality in worker co-operatives across France, Italy and Spain, than in traditional enterprises. 

In Spain, women have to work 82 extra days to receive the same salary as a man. France is in a similar situation, with women needing to work 15 months in order to earn as much as men earn in one year, according to Eurostat

However, more than 70 per cent of the Scop members that took part in this survey said there are no major earning differences between men and women. According to the survey, in 93.8 per cent of cases gender based salary discrimination does not exist within worker co-operatives in Spain, France and Italy.

According to the Spanish Confederation of Worker Co-operatives (Coceta), more than six million European women aged 25-49 say they cannot work on a full time basis due to their family responsibilities. For this reason they sometimes choose to work on a part time basis or hold positions that involve less responsibility. However, more than 28 per cent of the women taking part in this survey were married and had children. This shows that worker co-ops offer equal opportunities for women with a family.

Coceta also revealed that 49 per cent of worker co-op members were women and 39 percent of them held leadership positions.

Women within worker co-operatives also seem to have a better quality of life. The survey reveals that worker co-ops provide more opportunities for promotion and training than traditional enterprises.

The 133 women interviewed said they receive an equal salary to the one men receive for an equal workload. They said they could reach the highest leadership positions whilst also benefiting from training opportunities. 

Overall, the survey shows that worker co-ops provide equal opportunities in terms of leadership and salary. It also shows that co-op members manage to have a better balance between work and personal life. The survey concludes that worker co-ops empower women whilst also improving their entrepreneurial potential. 

 “Active Women in Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs)” is a project sponsored by the European Union and conducted by Coceta. As part of the project, Coceta conducted a transnational study to assess the situation of women in worker co-operatives. 85 worker co-operatives took part in this survey.

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About Anca Voinea

Co-operative News journalist.