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Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 5 Mar 1974

Vol. 270 No. 12

Anti-Discrimination (Pay) Bill, 1974: Second Stage.

I move: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

The Government are committed, as part of their overall programme, to the introduction of legislation to eliminate discrimination against women. The Government have already indicated their general acceptance of the recommendations contained in the final report of the Commission of Inquiry on the Status of Women which was published in May last. The commission recommended that legislation should be enacted to ensure the implementation of a policy of equal pay for work of equal value.

Equal pay is but one aspect of the general question of the status of women in employment and, indeed, in society generally which needs attention. Much remains to be done to eliminate unfair discrimination on grounds of sex wherever possible and so help to change the prejudiced attitudes which give rise to it. The Bill now before the House is a significant statutory step along the road leading towards uplifting the role of women in our society.

It is our objective as an administration to allow women to play a full part in the life of the State and to eliminate those barriers which prevent them from doing so. Whilst it is true that the majority of women may not wish to see their family role basically altered, it must not be forgotten that women are going out to work in far greater numbers or are returning to work at an earlier age after their children have gone to school. The proportion of women in the work force has been on the increase for a considerable time and now amounts to 26 per cent of the working population. It is, therefore, unacceptable from the point of view of women and our community that they have tended to be concentrated in less skilled and, therefore, lowly paid jobs and that they are poorly represented in management and most of the professions.

This major piece of legislation follows on a number of other measures which have been introduced by this Government. In this connection, I would mention the removal of the marriage bar to employment in the Public Service, the improvement of facilities for deserted wives and the introduction of benefits and allowances for unmarried mothers.

I must emphasise that this is a Bill to deal with equal pay. It is a necessary and important step along the road to eliminating discrimination but it covers only a limited though significant area of discrimination and does not in itself ensure equality of opportunity for women. In the preparation of later legislation, I propose to consider making unlawful practices in employment which impede the progress of women and tend to restrict them to the less skilled and more poorly paid jobs. Such legislation should also provide a means of redress for individual women who feel they have suffered unfair discrimination in employment. This present legislation does not provide the complete answer to the subordinate position of women in employment. More fundamental problems, such as the nature of their work in industry, the availability of training facilities and of access to these facilities, all these are matters which will require consideration and which may require legislative treatment.

From the experience of other countries, I think I may say now that further legislation will be necessary to deal with questions of discrimination on grounds of sex in the selection of workers for industry, their advancement and promotion and structural changes required by the needs of married women in industry. I have set in train consideration of all these matters in my Department. This Bill is, therefore, the first of a series of anti-discrimination measures which I propose to bring before the Oireachtas as soon as possible so as to give the individual citizen, whether man or woman, a fair contract of employment with statutory backing.

The Bill provides that a woman will have the right to the same pay as a man who is employed by the same employer in the same place of employment if both are employed on "like work". The definitions of "like work" follow broadly the definitions set out in the report of the Commission of Inquiry on the Status of Women—an excellent report—and used in successive national wages agreements.

These criteria are a good deal wider in scope than those contained in the equivalent British legislation of 1970 and should ensure that the fairest possible comparisons are drawn between jobs being done by men and women.

It is the intention of the Bill that both sides of industry should work together and secure by their joint efforts the transition to equal pay. I visualise the vast majority of equal pay claims being settled through direct negotiations between employers and trade unions.

Where, however, settlement of an equal pay claim cannot be reached by direct negotiation, the Bill provides that a party to a dispute can refer it to an equal pay officer of the Labour Court who will investigate it and issue a recommendation. The equal pay officers will be trained in the techniques necessary to enable them to give informed and authoritative guidance to the parties involved. If a party to a dispute is dissatisfied with the recommendation of an equal pay officer, there is provision in the Bill for appeal to the Labour Court who will then issue a binding determination—enforceable by law. Appeal may be made to the High Court on a point of law arising from any such recommendation.

I have deliberately selected the Labour Court as the body to be the final arbiter of equal pay cases rather than setting up a separate tribunal as has been done in a number of countries. In our situation the Labour Court enjoys a high reputation at the centre of our industrial relations system as a body trusted by both employers and unions. I would hope that this would contribute towards the acceptability of decisions in this area.

Where it appears to me that a particular employer has failed to comply with the provisions of the Bill and where for one reason or another it is not reasonable to expect an employee to refer her case to an equal pay officer, I will have power to refer cases to the equal pay officers for investigation.

In the course of my consideration of the most effective kind of dispute-settling machinery my concern has been to ensure, as far as possible, that claims can be settled quickly and without the necessity of those involved going through complex procedures in order to secure their rights.

It could, perhaps, happen that some woman might be deterred from seeking equal pay to which she might feel she is entitled through fear of retaliatory action by an employer— such as dismissal. I have, therefore, included a provision in the Bill making it an offence for an employer to dismiss a woman on the grounds that she sought equal pay. In a prosecution for an offence of this kind the onus will be on the employer to satisfy the courts that the dismissal did not arise solely from the making of the claim for equal pay. A woman who has been dismissed in the circumstances I have referred to should not be placed in the position of having to incur legal expenses in order to assert her rights. The Bill, therefore, provides that she can lodge a complaint with the Labour Court that she has been dismissed from her employment because she sought equal pay whereupon the Labour Court will consider the complaint. If the court is satisfied that the complaint is well-founded it can, by order, direct the employer concerned to compensate the woman for loss of earnings. An employer who fails to comply with a Labour Court order will be guilty of an offence.

I may add—for any male chauvinist Deputies there may be in the House— that the Bill will apply equally to a man who seeks equal pay with that of a woman who is doing like work in the same place of employment.

That is a big deal.

I have given careful consideration to the question of the date for full implementation, before deciding that the Act should be brought into operation on the 31st December, 1975: in other words that, from that date, women should be entitled to full equality with a man who is doing like work in the same place of employment from that date. As a Government we are convinced that there could be no further delay in nominating a final date for the implementation of equal pay. The Government also had regard to the fact that if legislation were to provide for the full implementation in three or four years there would be the inherent danger seen in the experience of other countries that little progress towards equal pay would, in fact, be made in the intervening period irrespective of how long that would be. Real progress would, in fact, be confined to a very short period before the date specified in the legislation. While the implementing of equal pay will involve additional costs, I do not think that this problem must stand in our way. It is impossible, in legislation of this kind, to get a universally acceptable right time for implementation and the reasons for doing nothing in social legislation of this kind are always legion.

I am aware that the decision to proceed to full implementation of this measure by December, 1975, has been the subject of criticism, notably by the employer organisations. In social legislation of this kind, I accept the right of nationally representative organisations to make known their observations, whether of opposition or support, but in the last analysis it is for the Government of the day to take the necessary legislative decisions after consideration of all the factors.

Most of the progress towards equal pay, it is fair to say, has occurred thus far from under the aegis of the various national agreements. The transition towards equal pay commenced on a voluntary basis following the successful negotiation of the national agreement of 1972. Under the provisions of that agreement, the parties could negotiate claims aimed at reducing by 17½ per cent the differential in the rates of pay of men and women. This narrowing of the differentials has already been implemented in the Civil Service. The proposals for a third national agreement contain provisions for further substantial progress towards the goal of equal pay, by providing for the negotiation of claims on the basis of 33? per cent of the difference between male and female rates, that is in addition to the 17½ per cent closing of differentials involved in the 1972 agreement. The clause in the proposed third national agreement provides that "It shall not be inconsistent with this Agreement for the parties, on the basis of mutual consent, to make arrangements for the application of equal pay by the end of 1975".

I often have the impression that there is too little recognition as yet in the country of the social obligations of our membership of the European Community. Every member country of the Community has legalisation on equal pay. The Netherlands, who were the only country without such legislation, have now decided to introduce it. As a member country of the EEC it is in the national interest to work towards the development of a comprehensive social policy in the Community, a policy of a comprehensive kind that would animate all the other decisions of the Community. Despite difficulties which the Community is presently encountering the Government will continue to work towards the objective of a Community which accords the same status to the requirements of social policy as to economic policy. It would, therefore, be inconsistent on our part to delay implementation of legislation on this matter.

While this is, for our State, the first piece of legislation in this area and whilst as such it may not give complete answers to all of the problems connected with discrimination in employment, I hope it will be accepted for what it is—an honest endeavour towards the improvement of the status of women. As I said at the outset, this is only one of a number of measures which will be needed if we are to proceed towards the removal of discrimination against women. Of course, legislation on its own can never be the final answer. It will always need to be complemented, for complete success, by changes in the attitude of society at large.

I commend the Bill to the House.

In welcoming the Bill I should like to say that our attitude is summed up in the budget speech of the former Minister for Finance, Deputy George Colley, in 1972 when he indicated at page 27 of the publication "Budget 1972" that:

The first of these is equal pay for women, which the Government accept in principle and which they now affirm as a national aim.

Of course, he was referring to equal pay and it was affirmed at that stage.

Having heard the Minister explain the contents of the Bill in detail I am very disappointed that it was not one of a more comprehensive nature. The Minister has had plenty of time, since the introduction of the first Bill on the 3rd July, 1973, up to now, to take into consideration all the aspects which he mentioned in his brief. He indicated it was necessary and desirable to bring in further legislation in order to ensure the full implementation of equal pay. I believe, this being a new Bill, that it would have been desirable that it be a full and comprehensive measure which would have been discussed here on its introduction. The time factor would indicate now that the introduction of the first Bill in July, 1973, was a mere whitewashing effort. It would appear to me that there was one word only in the long title which differed from the title of the present Bill, the word "equivalent". Therefore, it is disappointing that, after this prolonged period of study, the Minister has not got something more concrete to offer to the House so that we could have had for consideration the concomitant measures necessary and desirable for the implementation of the comprehensive system of equal pay for women.

The important clauses of the Bill are very few indeed. There is the question of like work in section 3; the dismissal, because of seeking equal pay in section 8; the provisions applying to dismissal in section 9. When we examine sections 8 and 9, if lack of equal pay is to be the sole criterion of discrimination against women and if there are no other conditions which may be construed as discriminating against them, why not call it the Equal Pay Bill? The main clauses deal only with remuneration for women and the possible causes of discrimination against women at work. It appears to us that the change of title was merely a whitewashing operation to cover over the long period of inactivity since the introduction of the Bill.

The passing of this Bill at an earlier stage would have given employers a longer period in which to set in motion the services necessary and desirable for its implementation. The Minister has specified December, 1975, as the date for the implementation of the Bill as against 1977 which was recommended in the Report on the Status of Women. The Minister mentioned the criticism of the Federated Union of Employers who felt that the deadline for the Bill's implementation was unsatisfactory.

The term "like work" is worth noting. It is a term which is open to a variety of interpretations. If we look at legislation already enacted in other European countries, it will be noted that difficulties were encountered in various EEC countries in regard to this matter. In 1967 the Belgian Government indicated imminent activity in relation to equal pay and they encouraged employers to observe the principle of equal pay. It was 1961, following promptings from the EEC, before there was favourable reaction to the question of full implementation of "like work". In 1964 there was a decree in France providing for wages to be fixed in accordance with occupations and skills. In 1968 the commission had to take further steps there to ensure that the difficulties then existing were overcome. There are still some differences between what was done and what should have been done.

The lapse of time between the implementation of the Bill and its effects was considerable even in these countries where they were geared to this situation. In Germany, even with the resources available there and their goodwill towards the implementation of the principle, while they were faster than other countries, it was as a result of prompting also that further steps were taken to ensure full implementation. There were factors in all these countries which produced an undesirable situation because of the long lapse of time. It is desirable that the Bill should be implemented as soon as possible but there is a long lapse of time; questions arise about the downgrading of women in the interim period. In Italy the Government were committed to equal pay long ago but it was 1968 before they started in earnest to develop this principle. There were further promptings in 1971 and the whole question of equal pay was further considered. There is still a gap there between what is intended and what has been done. In Luxembourg and the Netherlands there are also gaps. In Britain there is a Bill which is to come into operation in December of next year. Various difficulties and complications were indicated during the debate on that Bill.

The Minister has indicated that he has taken into consideration factors which came to light during the debate in Britain. We are aware that the terms "like work" or "equal pay for work of equal value" create problems. The problems should be identified and eliminated. The terminology in this Bill should be simple. Does the Minister intend in further Bills to make provision for pregnant women and their reinstatement after an absence because of pregnancy? There are similar provisions in some Bills but not in others. Many married women are now employed. It is desirable that their position should be protected. If there is no indication in this Bill about them, it can be taken by implication that we are not concerned about them. It is most important that pregnant women should get recognition in the Bill in order to ensure that their rights will be observed by the employers and that the employers will have to consider them and not merely dismiss because of a desire to reduce the number of female personnel on the staff, leaving them without an opportunity to return to employment after a reasonable period. A reasonable period in which they can return to their jobs should be defined in the Bill in order to ensure their return to employment.

I would like to know what the Minister proposes to do in relation to the employment of equal pay officers and what terms of reference he will give them in relation to the assessment of equal pay for work of equal value. In many countries it has been the practice to downgrade women in the period between the introduction of a Bill and its final implementation. It is important that the necessary measures should be taken to ensure that downgrading does not take place on a large scale so that the Bill would not apply to women who would normally get an increase. We are aware that in other countries there has been this downgrading; there has been the removal of male employees to other places of employment in order to ensure there can be no basis for comparing work of equal value. I hope that through discussions with the Federated Union of Employers and other employers' organisations the Minister will ensure that the tactics used elsewhere to nullify the effect of the Bill will be overcome. The long-term advantages are there, but, in the short term, there may be an adverse effect. I would hope that any legislation coming before this House would not have an adverse effect on the employment of women. The lay off of female personnel and the employment of male personnel to replace them is a matter that must be considered at an early stage.

As I said, the Bill is inadequate to deal with equal pay on a comprehensive basis, because it only deals with a very few factors. As regards the initial Bill which came before the House way back in July and which was withdrawn at a later stage, if the time lag which occurred there is to be the same in the future in relation to the additional measures that are necessary, the whole effect of the Bill will be lost.

The Minister has indicated that an employee would have the right to appeal on a point of law to the High Court. It is very important in a Bill of this nature where costs are involved that the worker would not be the one to be at a financial disadvantage as a result of pursuing a course which he thought was in keeping with his claim. I hope the Minister will clearly indicate who will be responsible for the costs in relation to an appeal to the High Court. If costs are given against the worker, this will be the discrimination Bill instead of the Anti-Discrimination Bill, a term which certainly has not won the admiration of many people either inside or outside the House. It is difficult to understand why the Minister chose the term "anti-discrimination" in relation to this legislation. As far as I am aware from inquiries I have made, it is the first occasion we have had a Bill prefixed with "anti". The other provisions in the Bill are purely related to its implementation, namely, the equal pay officers and the Labour Court as the court which will make the decisions. One cannot find fault with them, but it would be desirable to have an indication as to where the costs will lie.

I should be glad if the Minister would indicate why he has provided in the various subsections of the Bill that the hearings would be in private and whether at any stage he would consider the question of an appeal to a body that would include trade unionists and possibly employers in relation to some of the decisions arrived at. It might be well worth while for the Minister to consider the setting up of such a body.

I hope this Bill will be fully implemented and that there will be no difficulty experienced by employers as a result of the time lag in the presentation of the Bill to the House. From discussions I had with employers, I gathered they thought that when the Minister failed to present the Bill after the First Reading, he was allowing the position to lapse. As a result, many employers did not proceed as far as they could or should with the restructuring which will take place now, I am sure, in order to avoid immediate repercussions because of the early implementation. I have no disagreement with that, having regard to our entry to the EEC and our obligation to ensure that conditions laid down by the EEC in regard to the improvement of working conditions and other improvements, which we hope will be to the benefit of the Irish workers are implemented.

I hope the Minister will give us a clear indication of the other measures he proposes to introduce. It is regrettable that he did not indicate them in his opening speech so that we could examine the Bill in the light of those other measures. The introduction of a comprehensive measure would be more desirable and would possibly give a greater opportunity to Members of this House to discuss all the factors involved in equal pay legislation. Now that the Bill is before the House, I hope the employers will make the necessary arrangements and so ensure that women are not discriminated against in any way, and that they will also, unlike employers in other countries, take a realistic look at this and in no way downgrade women in order to evade their responsibilities.

I rise to extend a very special welcome to this Anti-Discrimination (Pay) Bill, 1974, and to compliment the Minister on its introduction. This is, of course, a continuation of the policy of this Government to end discrimination against women and to improve the status of women. I hope this will be the first of a series of anti-discrimination Bills aimed at correcting the imbalance against women in this State.

This Bill is framed largely in accordance with the recommendations of the Report of the Commission on the Status of Women. I want to compliment the members of that commission on what was an excellent report. It has produced, very objectively, a wealth of information and documentation and can form the basis of a good deal of anti-discrimination law for the future. I hope the other recommendations in the report will find their expression in legislation in the very near future.

The concept of giving equal pay for work of equal value has been with us for quite a considerable time. We can go back at least 26 years to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1948. It stated that everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work. In June, 1961, we had the ILO Convention 100, the one that formed the basis of so many questions in this House, ratified by 70 countries, all the then EEC countries, the United Kingdom, Norway and Denmark. It was not ratified by Ireland and for that reason it was the subject of several questions in this House. The replies were fairly consistent, and the State was not going to lead the way in this matter. Thank heavens the State has decided to be definite in where it wants to go in this regard. We then had the European Special Charter in 1961 again dealing with equal pay for equal work. The relevant paragraph—I think it was paragraph 3 of article 4 —again was not accepted by Ireland. Therefore, I can understand the urgency with which the Minister introduces this Bill and as far as I am concerned it is very welcome.

I know that even in countries where legislation has been introduced for some considerable time, in the EEC countries, for instance, the progress anticipated has not been made. I certainly take the Minister's point, that probably a programme set out in a very short period is the most effective way to do this. I sincerely hope the ambitions of the Minister in this regard will be realised before the end of 1975.

We have a situation in this country where women's earnings do fall drastically short of the earnings of men. We find—and I am quoting from this report to which I referred previously—that in March 1972 the average hourly earnings of women in industry on adult rates were only 37.6 pence as against 65.6 for men. This strikes me as a tremendous gap to be bridged. In September, 1970, the latest date for which data is available, we find from the Quarterly Industrial Inquiry that 65 per cent of men earned more than £20 at that time whereas only 2.3 per cent of women earned that figure. Seventy-five per cent of all women earned less than £12 at that time while only 1.8 per cent of the men earned less than £12. Although some improvement has taken place since, the pattern largely exists up to the present and would continue, to some degree, without legislation of this kind. It would even continue with legislation unless the legislation has teeth to ensure that it does not and unless it is followed up forcefully by other anti-discrimination legislation and by education on a very broad scale. We require a new charter for women. I am happy that an understanding of the problems of women and of the injustice committed against them in the past seems to exist now and that positive steps are being taken to right these wrongs.

The implementation of any Act in this area and of an equal pay Act in particular encounters many obstacles such as the social attitude of the people, fears of male workers and prejudice. It is generally accepted that skilled male workers particularly vehemently oppose the admission of women into their areas of occupation. They fear job dilution and they fear— perhaps they had some reason to do so up to now—that cheap female labour would lessen the value of their own jobs. They should be happy to find that as a result of the introduction of a Bill like this these fears need no longer exist and that if women enter, as I hope they will, that field of activity—I see no reason why not—there will certainly be no question of them providing cheap female labour in that area of employment. All that must be overcome in this area then is prejudice. I understand that prejudice would exist but perhaps when the economics are overcome the prejudice will slowly die a natural death.

We have the social attitude also. The Minister said that we had to change the attitude of society and that no legislation would do this. Perhaps the two are interlocked and that by usage, in some areas, attitudes will change also. In society up to now and even still very largely men are regarded as breadwinners, whether or not they marry or whether they win the bread. Wages are linked with family needs. We speak in terms such as "good wages for a man", "very good wages for a girl". We often hear these terms with no reference to the skill required for the job or the sort of job it is. For instance, £30 a week today is considered a very good wage for a girl; it is not so considered for a man. There is no advertence to the value of the job in using those terms. We must admit, however, that this is not consistent because there are vast differences between the wages or incomes of different men; we must, therefore, conclude that the needs of different families vary very greatly. The hypocrisy is still greater when we consider what little reference to family needs there is in the case of widows; there are no family wages for them. Even when we talk of married women going to work and the children's need to have their mothers with them, we do not extend that thinking to widows. The provision made by the State for widows makes it necessary for them to go to work. We tend to change our attitudes to suit the occasion. I believe that while these attitudes have been with us a long time they can and will be changed.

You very often hear that women are their own worst enemies and this is frequently true but on the question of equal pay the attitude of men is definitely harder. The Economic and Social Research Unit made a survey in 1968 in which it was shown that 79 per cent of men felt a fair, basic minimum wage for a single man should be more than that for a single woman. I would ask: why? That was only four years ago. Only 5.4 per cent of them thought that all should have the same pay, men or women married or single.

I agree with the Minister that any legislation introduced will have public opinion to overcome and I wish him well in his efforts to cope with this problem of woolly thinking in regard to pay. Another survey was done among women at that time and it was found that they were definitely more sympathetic towards the condition of women than men were but the same emphasis on dependence was revealed. We will need a great deal of clarification on that point. We must think in terms of rate for the job while not disregarding family commitments or responsibility—these should be dealt with in another area and under another heading.

In the main, women are relegated to the lower-paid jobs and facts bear out this view. Indeed, it is quite evident in our society that women are relegated in the main to lower-paid service jobs or jobs of routine nature, even where their education or skill fits them for something better—certainly their education, because up to a point girls are educated to the same extent as boys. But beyond a certain point there seems to be a blockage in the advancement of women. The horizons are limited by convention. The attitudes of employers are hardened. The ambition of the skilled typist seems to be to become a secretary to the boss, who is always a man. A great deal of improvement is required in this area. Jobs as typists, shorthand typists, dictaphone typists and secretaries could be done by men and women, but because they are done predominently by women they are treated as female jobs and automatically downgraded as far as remuneration is concerned.

I am very concerned that equal pay legislation should have teeth in it. A number of firms have taken steps to implement equal pay but so far these have not been very effective. Equal pay has been applied to a few specified jobs. The Report of the Commission on the Status of Women, at page 89, states:

It should be noted, however, that while in some cases all office jobs have been incorporated under the equal pay scheme, for the majority equal pay applies merely to a few specific jobs or tasks such as accounts, wages, etc., and does not include the bulk of office jobs. For example, one organisation which spoke of its equal pay scheme for male and female clerical workers, had only one female classed as a "clerical" and she had a university qualification.

This is typical of women's struggle to be recognised in industry or any other area where remunerative jobs are concerned. Any Equal Pay Bill will not do and an Equal Pay Bill alone will not do.

Some EEC countries have had equal pay legislation on the stocks for some time and have not made the progress we had hoped they would. We can learn from their mistakes and ensure that our legislation will be effective. France have had legislation on their books since 1950. They admit that the requirement of strength is still more heavily weighed than the requirement of dexterity. The same applies to Germany. Discrimination was practised in skilled classifications. At the moment we have male jobs and female jobs and never the twain shall meet; therefore, we must have job evaluation.

What type of evaluation does the Minister envisage? Will it be on an organised basis under the Bill or will it arise as claims are presented to an equal pay officer or the Labour Court?

We hope to attach it to the Labour Court.

Would there be a generalised——

We would have to wait for cases as they arose. As the Deputy will appreciate, they will build up a body of expertise in connected job areas. Generally, job evaluation would be concerned here.

The Minister would step in where a person could not be expected to bring the case to the Court. This is very important because I envisage that many of these people were deprived as a result of centuries of a certain type of thinking. They would be the least equipped to bring their cases to the Labour Court. I appeal to women generally to make their voices heard.

I am realist enough to know that any system would depend on the judgment and experience of the person assessing. Tradition has been weighted against women. It is very difficult for people who have been reared in this tradition to be completely objective. Every country has problems of physical effort on the one hand and manual dexterity on the other. Physical effort commands greater remuneration in all cases. In this age of mechanisation surely this is not very logical. I presume that the post of equal pay officer will be open to both men and women. There is a lot of repetition in the Bill of "him" and "her".

We have not been able to abolish sex.

Section 9 provides for sanction to be taken against an employer who does not comply with this Bill. Provision is not made for the dismissed person to be reinstated.

This Bill implements the Report of the Commission on the Status of Women. It is a personal triumph for the Minister for Labour. It must be remembered that the commission recommended that by 1977 equal pay should be implemented; we will have it here in 1975. This is a measure which women will welcome. As a Deputy I also welcome it. I compliment the Minister on the introduction of this Bill.

As indicated by Deputy Dowling, we on this side of the House welcome this Bill as far as it goes. Unfortunately, that is not very far. Deputy Dowling referred to the budget speech made by me as the then Minister for Finance on 19th April, 1972, in which I stated that the Government accepted in principle equal pay for women and that they now affirmed this as a national aim. I went on to detail the various aspects of this matter which could be dealt with and to outline a timetable during which they would be dealt with. It will be appreciated that in a budget speech it is not possible, or appropriate, to go into very great detail on a matter such as this.

Nevertheless, I did make reference at that time to the fact that the commission also recommended the enactment of legislation to give effect to their proposals. I also referred to the fact that the Employer/Labour Conference would be taking account of the recommendations moving towards equal pay, something which was done, as the Minister indicated in his speech, in the 1972 national pay agreement. A greater step on that road is, as indicated by the Minister, proposed in the third national pay agreement if it operates.

In that budget speech I further stated:

It is also intended to consider the question of the ending of restrictions on the employment of women which, by excluding them from equal work with men, are an automatic barrier to equal pay. It is hoped that the final report of the Commission will be available when the legislation is being prepared.

The final report did become available. Further on, having referred to the marriage bar in the public service which operated under various statutory and non-statutory regulations, I pointed out that it was hoped that all non-statutory restrictions on employment of married women would be ended as soon as possible and that the necessary legislation for the repeal of any statutory restrictions and for the prohibition of restrictions on the employment of married women generally, would be enacted within the period of two years as recommended in the interim report.

I further pointed out that it was intended to enact, within two years of the interim report, legislation for the prohibition of restrictions on employment of married women generally. None of these matters is contained in this Bill. In so far as we are concerned we can only regard this as a sliding back on the part of the Government from the programme which we had set out and announced at that time.

In case the Minister is tempted to regard this as a debating point I should like to draw attention to a very important matter. It is agreed on all sides of the House, and the Minister has indicated his agreement with this in his speech, that all experience in other countries shows that the mere statutory provision of compulsory equal pay for work of equal value does not achieve what we want to achieve. Indeed, the Minister goes to some trouble in his speech to spell out various other areas which will need attention.

I should like to quote from the Minister's script:

In the preparation of later legislation, I propose to consider making unlawful certain practices in employment which impede the progress of women and tend to restrict them to the less skilled and more poorly paid jobs. Such legislation should also provide a means of redress for individual women who feel they have suffered unfair discrimination in employment. This present legislation does not provide the complete answer to the subordinate position of women in employment.

That is certainly an understatement. The Minister went further and stated:

More fundamental problems such as the nature of their work in industry, the availability of training facilities and of access to these facilities, all these are matters which will require consideration and which may require legislative treatment.

I want to suggest to the Minister that he knows, and all of us know from our experience in other countries, as well as from our own practical appreciation of the situation, that without comprehensive legislation of that kind, as was pointed out by Deputy Dowling, the position of women in regard to equal pay will not alone be defective but could well be made much worse as a result of this legislation before the House.

I know that it is not the Minister's intention and I do not want him to misunderstand me or misquote me by suggesting I was putting forward the thesis that that was his intention. I know it is not his intention but we have got to be realistic. We know that this very limited legislation in the short-term and pending further legislation, could lead to a disimprovement in the position of women in so far as equal pay is concerned. Indeed, it could lead to a disimprovement in their position relevant to their position today in the absence of this legislation today.

I do not know if it is necessary for me to spell this out in detail because the Minister has indicated he is aware of this. There have been some references by Deputy Dowling and, I think, by Deputy Mrs. Desmond, to the possibility of this happening, to the possibility that under the provisions of this Bill, limited though it is, employers will so arrange their work force as to result to the detriment of women workers. That is not what any of us wants but that is a most likely outcome of producing such a limited Bill as the Minister has produced. The Minister has produced this Bill behind schedule and after he had been manoeuvring around with the title of the Bill. After all that time he comes in with this Bill which, I believe even he would admit, is not exactly the most earth-shattering legislation that has come before this House.

This is relatively simple legislation and there is, in fact, a great danger that, because of its very limited nature, it may have a detrimental effect. The Minister has not, as far as I can see, offered to the House any explanation as to why the more comprehensive legislation, the outlines of which he has mentioned in his speech and more of which were mentioned in the budget speech of 1972, was not introduced and why this legislation is so limited. He has not explained why this legislation does not cover the various points he highlighted as being necessary to be covered. I feel, since this Bill is not intended to operate until 31st December, 1975, that if for any reason, and I cannot imagine what the reason was, the Minister was unable to produce comprehensive legislation at this time, and it is our belief that he should have been able to do it, then it would have been better to have held back a little longer until he could produce the comprehensive legislation.

Since this legislation would only operate at the end of December, 1975, nothing is being achieved by introducing it now except, as mentioned by Deputy Dowling, that it gives that much more notice to employers, in particular, to gear themselves for the implementation of the Bill. Since the Bill is so limited and since it appears to leave so many loopholes, I am not so sure that that length of notice to employers is a desirable thing. I hope the Minister will indicate in much more detail why the Bill is not as comprehensive as he would desire it to be and what his view is in relation to the dangers of introducing a less than comprehensive Bill in the circumstances which I have outlined.

To indicate just how limited this Bill is, Sir, I want to refer to the Explanatory Memorandum because it expresses what is in section 2 of the Bill in clearer language than could necessarily be done in the Bill itself. The Explanatory Memorandum refers to section 2 in the following terms:

This section provides that where a woman is employed by the same employer on like work with that of a man in the same place of employment she will be entitled to equal pay.

I do not think the Minister could have made the section more limited than that if he had gone out of his way to do so: "...employed by the same employer in the same place of employment..." That, of course, is extremely restrictive. It also leaves numerous loopholes to avoid the intention of the Bill. I hope this Bill is not really a piece of window-dressing but it is difficult to avoid the suspicion, when one looks at the terms of the Bill and has regard to the dangers I have referred to—and, indeed, which have been recognised by the Minister himself—that this is what this Bill is, a piece of window-dressing. It will not do any good of itself, within the limited terms of this Bill, to achieve equal pay.

If the Minister could assure us that he intends to bring forward the further legislation which is necessary, and to bring it forward in a reasonably short time, I would be less concerned about the dangerous implications of the Bill on its own. If he can assure us that that is so, he should explain why it is that he has not got a comprehensive Bill here now.

I also have some reservations in regard to the title of the Bill, not the ones mentioned already in the House, but because it is called the Anti-Discrimination (Pay) Bill, 1974. If you look at the terms of section 2 it could be argued that section 2 displays a discriminatory mental attitude which should not be there. Section 2 (1) provides:

Subject to this Act, it shall be a term of the contract under which a woman is employed in any place of employment that she shall be entitled to the same rate of remuneration as a man who is employed in that place and by the same employer if both are employed on like work.

Section 3 provides:

Two persons shall be regarded as employed on like work——

Section 2 refers to a woman and a man. I am not convinced at all that it is necessary for the purposes of this Bill to do so. If men and women are entitled to equal pay, they are entitled to it because they are doing work of equal value, and because they are human beings, not because they are men or women. It seems to me that the mental attitude that comes out in section 2 is, as I have said, discriminatory of its nature, whereas section 3 shows that the problem can be approached in a different way. The title which the Minister made such a hoo-ha about in introducing it is even more unfortunate, when one looks at the terms of section 2 in the light of what I have said.

The recommendation in the Report of the Commission on the Status of Women or the date of implementation of equal pay was 1977 and this Bill provides for the end of 1975. Incidentally, I should like to support very strongly the praise given by Deputy Mrs. Desmond to that report which I believe was an invaluable document which will ultimately have a very great influence in altering the whole attitude of society to women and in altering the position of women in our society.

The Minister talked at some length in his introductory speech about the date of implementation of equal pay. I seem to recall that on a previous occasion the Minister said he could not introduce the equal pay provision by the end of 1975. If I am right in that, perhaps the Minister would explain in more detail what the factors were which changed, or what the factors were which changed his mind in that regard.

What is the Deputy's reference for that?

I have not got a reference but if the Minister tells me he did not say it I or some Fianna Fáil Deputy will produce it for him. I worded it in such a way as to suggest that I was not purporting to quote the Minister but that I had a recollection that the Minister had said so. I think he will appreciate that my wording was rather careful.

I must compliment the Deputy on his careful wording. His budget statement of 1972 is doing great service.

I will come back to the point I was about to make. The Minister will recall that he withdrew the previous Bill and introduced this one. Apparently he was just changing the title. He will recall that at that time he said something to the effect that when he went into office he found nothing done in this regard. The Minister really ought to be a little more forthcoming with the House. I would refer him again to what was stated in the budget speech of 1972 and I would ask him is it not a fact that, when he went into office, he found a great deal of work had been done in regard particularly to the first priority mentioned there, the removal of the marriage bar in the public service, the removal of the non-statutory restrictions, and the identification of the problems involved in the removal of the statutory restrictions which applied?

Furthermore, with all due deference to the Minister and to the draftsmen and the officials in his Department, he cannot say that it took him a year to produce this Bill. It did not. It could not. The only major political decision to be made was on the date of implementation. Perhaps that is what held him up, but it does not explain why the various requirements the Minister himself has highlighted are omitted and why it is that the Bill is of such a limited nature as set out in section 2.

The point I was about to make was that I would like the Minister to give some examples of a court of competent jurisdiction as referred to in section 8 (1) (c). I would assume, though I may be wrong in this, that in the normal case a court of competent jurisdiction would be the District Court. Perhaps it would be more normal that it should be the Circuit Court. It might help our understanding if the Minister could give us some examples of what might be a court of competent jurisdiction in particular cases.

I would also appreciate it if the Minister would comment on section 8 (3) (a) where a person is referred to as the plaintiff for the purposes of this subsection. I take it that the reference to that person as a plaintiff is merely for convenience and that, although that reference is made, it is accepted that in all or virtually all cases of prosecutions such as are envisaged in this section, the prosecution will be instituted by the State and not by the person referred to as the plaintiff. Reassurance by the Minister on that point would be appreciated.

The Minister stated towards the end of his speech that, while legislation in this matter is important, and we believe that the right legislation is very important, ultimately what we are trying to do here is to change the attitude of society. There is no use fooling ourselves and blinking our eyes to what we all know to be a fact: there is among certain sections of male workers a distinctly hostile and antipathetic attitude to the whole notion of equal pay for women. This is a fact. It has been demonstrated in other countries. It has been demonstrated in this country in the trade union movement in regard to negotiations, for instance, in relation to national pay agreements and in other ways also. It is not a phenomenon that applies only to this country. It is a phenomenon that appears to apply to men generally. Deputy Mrs. Desmond advanced one theory to explain it, namely, the fear of dilution of jobs. That goes some of the way, but I believe there is more to it than that.

It is a very deep-seated attitude. It is tied up in thousands of years of acceptance of the man as the breadwinner. Now one does not reverse attitudes grown up over thousands of years overnight. There is a failure to recognise the very quick changing character of society both here and in other countries and many of the attitudes valid in a different economic environment are not valid today. One cannot accept for a moment that legislation, no matter how comprehensive, will overcome all the problems associated—not just with equal pay for women; that is the priority we are dealing with at the moment— with the position in society of women not merely as equal to men but as, perhaps, co-equal with men to distinguish the basic fact that the characteristics and requirements of women in society are different from those of men. That does not mean that women should because of that be inferior to men or treated in an inferior way.

This whole problem will not be easily overcome and the experience referred to by Deputy Dowling and Deputy Mrs. Desmond, particularly the experience in EEC countries, is not encouraging. We know that in some of these countries equal pay for women has nominally been in operation for many years. We also know that in practice this is just not the case. This has not happened. This is not happening. That being so, I revert to a point I made earlier. We know from experience something of the problems and something of the weapons needed to solve these problems. These are not being dealt with in this measure and we are, therefore, running the risk, unless this Bill is very quickly supplemented with other legislation, of disimproving the position of women. We should not blind our eyes to that fact. The Minister should—I hope he will—indicate his understanding of this and his intention to deal with it as best he can by bringing in further legislation with the least possible delay, thereby ensuring that any possible damage that could arise as a result of this Bill will be minimised. If the Minister can do that I will be much happier about this legislation than I am at the moment.

The Deputy need have no worries.

If that came from a member of the former Government I would be reassured but, coming from a member of this Government, it is less than reassuring. We have heard a great deal about legislation that was coming which has not yet appeared. We heard a great deal about this legislation. It has appeared but it is about as limited a Bill as the Minister could introduce.

There are very high standards of efficiency in this Government.

I doubt if the Minister could have made the Bill any more limited than it is. Under section 2 people have to be employed by the same employer in the same employment. This leaves the position wide open. One cannot escape the conclusion that this is merely a piece of window-dressing. The Minister would have us believe he has been active in this field. Actually what he is doing is the minimum possible. If he did assure us that this will be followed by the necessary comprehensive legislation we would be a good deal happier than we are with this Bill at the moment.

As far as the Bill goes—it is not very far—we welcome it. Subject to what the Minister has to say in reply to the debate we will consider the attitude we should take on a detailed discussion of the provisions of the Bill on Committee Stage.

Mrs. Hogan O'Higgins

I welcome the Bill. It is long overdue. I do not blame the present Minister for that. I am rather amazed at Deputy Colley saying he mentioned this whole matter in his 1972 budget. I take it he and his Minister for Labour had been discussing anti-discrimination measures against women.

I even laid down a timetable.

Mrs. Hogan O'Higgins

Fianna Fáil were 16 years in Government and in those 16 years they did very little about some of the things they said they were thinking about. Now that they are in Opposition we hear a great deal about what they meant to do.

The mere implementation of this Bill does not, of course, mean that it will cure all the ills where the employment and working conditions of women are concerned. I agree with Deputy Colley on that. There is, in this country, a bias against women in employment. It probably stems from the general feeling that a woman's place is in the home and any woman who is not working in the home is somehow less equal. I can understand the reaction to some extent. Male employers look on women as cheap labour, slightly inferior to the male employees in their establishment and, because the law was such a woman had no redress if she decided to question her position in her employment; she usually got a week's notice or sometimes less.

Women put up with this; so, in fact, we are as much to blame as the males in our society. In the main, I would say, when women began to work first they worked not for the love of it. They had to because of the financial necessities of the family which drove them out to work. They were glad to accept any kind of pay and conditions. Even though they did the same work as the man in the same establishment, they were glad to accept less. I have often heard a girl say that such and such a man was leaving her employment establishment and that she was getting his job. But, if you asked her was she getting his pay, she would say: "Oh no; I am getting a few extra pounds a week to do his job!" She was glad to get the few extra pounds a week and accepted it. Therefore, in some cases women themselves were responsible for the conditions in which they worked.

That is why I am glad to see in the Minister's speech that it will be an offence for an employer to dismiss a woman for seeking equal pay for equal work. this is a very important thing. This is, I think, what kept women in the lower paid jobs—they were afraid to seek or ask for a rise because it meant dismissal. Under this Bill they will be protected.

The Labour Court officer is a good innovation also because it will assure women of their rights and ensure that they get them. Of course, this Bill will not, as has been stated by every other speaker, automatically mean that improved conditions will come about for women. In fact, in other countries this has not proved so and I imagine that we will run to the same pattern. But it is a start and for that reason, I welcome it.

I am sure—at least I hope I am sure —that the Minister has much more legislation on the stocks for us in this regard. There are many more areas concerning general conditions of women in employment that should be looked into and I hope will be.

In conclusion, I should like to compliment the Commission which sat and produced such an excellent report—the Commission on the Status of Women. It was the first time in this country that anyone made a determined effort to look into the whole position of the status of women because, believe it or not, the status of women does not exist at all. We are quite definitely classed as second-class citizens, mainly because the male in this country has been recognised as the head of the household, the leader of the little family unit, in all matters supreme, and it was expected that the women should bow to his superiority or supremacy. I think this has gone in 1974 and I am glad of that fact. I think it is time the State recognised the fact that it is gone.

I know this is not the place to discuss the position of women, their legal rights, et cetera; we will get plenty of opportunity to do that on other Bills. I should like to give a gentle reminder to the Minister that if further legislation on these lines is not forthcoming in the future, he need merely look over his shoulder and he will get plenty of reminders from us here in the back benches. He will not have to look across the House at Members of the Opposition because we will keep him on his toes. I should like to compliment him. I think he is a young Minister who means to do a lot for this country and, in so doing, he will get our support.

Like Deputies Dowling and Colley, I welcome the Bill—not perhaps for what is in it but for the promise of a glorious tomorrow on the road to women's liberation. I would say to the Minister that I was always taught that one should never be anti anything but rather be pro something——

I am very pro women, Deputy!

Therefore, the title of the Bill is rather intriguing. The Minister says he is very pro women but the Bill would not convince me of that. Had the Bill been entitled a Bill for the Improvement of the Status of Women then we could all have joined in a great spirit in it and tried to help the Minister in the further legislation he promises. The Minister has given a declaration of intent—that he is going to do something much greater for the equality of women. I suppose there is a whole tradition of male chauvinism against women. At least, by speaking this evening the Minister and Deputies on this side of the House, and on the far side too, will show the women that we are no male chauvinists, that we think of them in a kindly, constructive way and that we do hope to improve their status.

The Minister said this Bill is all about pay and that is true. He has said also, of course, that you cannot legislate against an attitude. That is quite true. the Bill, in itself, will not help women all that much or effect a completely comprehensive scheme of equal pay for equal work. As is known, in many industries—in the commercial world—the very fact of a woman having to be given equal pay with a man may well mean that she will not be so readily employed in the first place. There are reasons for this. A man, if he is to be employed, will probably remain in that employment all his life whether or not he marries. On the other hand, many women leave employment and marry. Therefore an employer may well say he will take the male applicant rather than the female. I do not think this Bill will help at the initial stage when a woman seeks employment. But it will help to some degree afterwards to ensure that she is not exploited by an employer who wants cheap labour.

I suppose this Bill has a moral basis inasmuch as we must do everything possible to ensure that an unscrupulous employer for the sake of making money will not employ cheap labour, whether female or male—generally it will be female because of the whole state of the world. Writers such as Tom Payne wrote about the rights of man but I do not think they were all that concerned about the rights of women. Therefore the Minister has that handicap; he has to try and conquer in a world which from the beginning of time has been male dominated.

Having said that, I think the Minister could have made a much better attempt in his first legislation on equal pay for equal work. He admitted that the national pay agreements had brought about the position of women having equal pay for equal work. I know of one firm where already some of the women have equal pay. Of course we can always show that in the House here we have equal pay for male and female Deputies. Therefore, we do set an example. But, on this matter of setting examples, I would direct the Minister's attention to the Civil Service where we have what are known as temporary clerks or temporary female assistants. Even though the last pay agreement had written into it a clause which would help these women gain equality in the Civil Service, this is not being implemented. I would ask the Minister to initiate an investigation into the Civil Service in order to ensure that no female clerk will be exploited or will suffer, not because of her sex but because of the fact that she is a temporary employee only. Let us, for heaven's sake, try to set a good headline in State employment.

The Minister might as well say he inherited this, and of course he did. But, in 1974, let us take appropriate action to show we are not being completely hypocritical. We may criticise the private employer, the outside employer, who may exploit female labour. However, judging by correspondence received—I have a question down on this matter at the moment— we have in the Civil Service some women who are being exploited perhaps on two counts: first, because they are women and, secondly, because they are temporary employees.

I hope we will have a new charter for women in the new legislation. There should be a charter for their liberation and I do not mean the hackneyed "liberation" which we have seen in recent years. The Minister should bring in legislation which will stand as a monument to him and will show that in 1974 we saw women in their true role and by our legislation ensured that if a woman decided to go into business or commerce or to stay at home she would not be exploited by employers or by society which should regard the role of wife and mother as the greatest role a woman can play. The whole scene should be examined. I support the Bill wholeheartedly in so far as it goes to ensure that a typist, a clerk, an architect or an engineer will not be exploited by an employer in order to cut down costs.

If a single woman leaves her employment to look after an ageing parent we give her a mere pittance and yet we talk about equal pay for work of equal value. Some people sacrifice themselves to look after ailing relatives. In a short Bill like this it is hardly possible to deal with all aspects of the problem and to ensure that we give women their rightful place in our society. If a business only exists because it can meet competition by employing cheap female labour there is something wrong with that business and it should not be in existence. One sees girls going into factories in the mornings while young men are unemployed. In the shirt-making industry in the North of Ireland women were employed in their thousands while the men stood at the corners unemployed. If there had been legislation there similar to the Bill before the House it might have staved off some of the holocaust which engulfed the North eventually.

We have a duty to examine all aspects of women's employment and to bring in legislation to remove the injustices and grievances and to set a course for a better-balanced society. Deputy Colley mentioned that this seemed to be stop-gap legislation and that the Bill has been brought in to appease the demands for the time being for further liberation, although I would not call it "liberation" but exaltation. We must exalt the role of women in our society by seeing that they have equal rights with male workers and that suitable legislation is brought in, has teeth and can be enforced.

There are many ways in which an employer can get around this Bill when it becomes an Act. I am not criticising the Minister's draft. No matter what legislation is brought in it can be circumvented by employers, some of whom are used to this sort of action. It will be seen from the Bill that it will be easy not to grant women equal pay with men. The Bill says that the women must be employed by the same firm in the same place as the men. Could the Minister ensure that the job will be evaluated on a categorical basis, that there will be certain categories of workers doing certain categories of jobs, and that the law will lay down that the worker is entitled to equal pay whether that worker is male or female?

If there were a woman's charter there should be no trouble getting equal pay for women whether they are architects or engineers or in other professions. A girl with a leaving certificate should be paid the same salary as a boy with that certificate. Many clerks have intermediate certificate. Many older people may not have either certificate. Grades should be designated on a certain broad basis and it should be laid down that a man or woman doing the same work is to be paid the same wage. Thanks to the trade unions it has been established in some cases that the pay for a particular job is £x per week.

There will be a lot of trouble with the equal pay officers coming into offices and factories looking for injustices. The factory inspectors have an important job to do in ensuring that the employer has machinery well safeguarded in order to prevent employees being injured. In this case the officers will not be dealing with machinery but with salaries and wages. The work will be tremendous. The officers concerned will have to examine each individual case. Between now and the Committee Stage the Minister should see whether the categories of workers could be defined. He must ensure that women who enter business will know beforehand that they will automatically have equal pay.

I have been speaking about clerks. Differences can arise easily in their pay. Professional men and women should not have much trouble getting the same rates. The category of clerical worker can be very wide and employers are not used to paying females the same rates as males and they may try to circumvent this Bill.

No matter what legislation is brought in here it cannot be 100 per cent watertight but it should be made as watertight as possible, first of all, to discourage employers from thinking they would get away with the exploitation of female labour in 1974. However, human nature being what it is we still have employers—they were there in the time of Dickens— who may be in the minority but who nevertheless, as a minority in the labour market, could cause a great deal of trouble. A very small strike may suddenly expand and engulf a whole industry. Therefore, unless we make this legislation as watertight as possible we shall not be able to stop the Bill from doing a certain amount of harm. It may well be that the abuse of anything is no condemnation of it, and the abuse of this Bill would not be a condemnation of the Bill but a condemnation of the legislators who did not take sufficient time to examine its weakness and draft a proper piece of legislation.

This Bill has been looked forward to very avidly by the women of our country, and especially those who are engaged in industry or commerce. I think they will find it rather disappointing that we cannot do more for them. We know that in other countries legislation has not safeguarded women from exploitation, and we must admit that it never will. What we must do is build up the goodwill of the employers and say that the State expects them to act honorably in this matter, that the prosecution entailed in the Bill is secondary. It is time to build on sound foundations, one of those foundations being, of course, that there will be no injustice to women who elect or, indeed, are forced to go out to earn a living or to secure a profession.

The Minister will, I am sure, when replying, be able to tell us why he did not bring forward a more comprehensive measure. I have not yet seen the reaction of the women's organisations and, no doubt, for other Stages we must be guided by this. I am not saying we would allow ourselves to be guided by all organisations who purport to speak for women, but there are tremendous, long-established women's organisations and I hope they will let their voices be heard before this Bill is enacted. If they do not, it will be very hard for the mere male to interpret exactly what they want. I would like to hear what the professional women's organisations, for instance, the Women Workers' Union, suggest we can do in order to improve this Bill.

While all over the world today we hear the cry of equality for women, we have to ask what we really mean by equality. It is not just enough to remove a grievance and to ensure that a woman is paid equally well for a job she is doing as well as the man is doing it. As James Connolly one time wrote about women, they must have been the most forebearing individuals going; otherwise they would have revolted long ago. He did not mean a military revolution but a revolt against the attitude of men towards women generally. While the attitude may have become more refined in recent years, it can, on many occasions, be no less cruel than it was 50 years ago.

We should be able to ensure today that women are treated equally with men, at least in one respect, that is, that every woman who is doing a job as expertly as a man will not be exploited any further than December, 1975. Deputy Colley and Deputy Dowling wondered at the long delay and questioned whether it was due to giving employers time to get things properly organised. Let me pay a tribute to some employers in this city who have already gone over to equal pay for equal work. The more progressive employers have done this and that is why they are more progressive and why they are making plenty of profit, because they see that any industry which is carrying a number of dissatisfied employees cannot possibly be progressive. For their own sakes, therefore, employers should think of this and ensure that without compulsion they will implement equal pay and will no longer exploit women.

I mentioned earlier that women may be disappointed, initially, at the reaction by employers. Employers may well decide to take on a male employee rather than a female. I do not know how anyone could prove that an employer had discriminated against a woman because of her sex. He could say he took the person who suited him most. There is a story told of people who brought in experts to select female staff. At the end the experts announced why they chose a particular girl and said they chose the girl with the yellow dress. I hope the selection of the employers will not be based on such flimsy recommendations as that. The State must ensure that should an erring employer be tempted to discriminate on grounds of sex some action can be taken against him. Again, no Bill can provide the answer to this problem. The Department, therefore, should launch a great publicity drive to encourage employers to take the view that in the interests of peace and justice they should ensure there would be no more discrimination on grounds of sex.

Debate adjourned.