Panel on equal pay: majority in favour of more paternal leave

A party debate on Sunday morning in the Arena considered the subject of equal pay. The panel comprised Annie Lööf (Centre Party), Ylva Johansson (Social Democrat Party), Jonas Sjöstedt (Left Party), Maria Arnholm (Liberal Party), Åsa Romson (Green Party), Penilla Gunther (Christian Democrat Party) and Jessica Polfjärd (Moderate Party).

Gertrud Åström, moderator and chair of the Swedish Women’s Lobby, started by talking about the 15:53 Movement. This was formed after it was discovered that women work without pay after 15.53 in the working day, while man are paid for the whole day (08.00-17.00).

“Three years ago it was 15:51. We’ve improved by two minutes!” said, Åström, accompanied by a resigned collective laugh from the audience.

The 15:53 Movement has put forward three demands: an annual salaries review at all workplaces, equal right to full-time employment for men and women, and equality in parent insurance. Every politician on the panel  was pressed for an answer on these questions. All parties were in favour of a salaries review apart from the Moderate Party and Social Democrat Party, but Ylva Johansson expressed regret that the current government had abolished the review that had previously been introduced.

“I respect that the review was removed, because it creates administrative problems, but I personally am in favour of a review,” said Minister for Equality, Maria Arnholm (Liberal Party).

Jonas Sjöstedt (Left Party) gave an example from Malmö municipality where a review resulted in higher salaries for women. Annie Lööf (Centre Party) said that a review was not enough, and also demanded results. Åsa Romson (Green Party) said that a review was a first step, but that more instruments were needed to tackle the problem, and above all wanted to exert pressure so that something is done. Pernilla Gunther (Christian Democrat Party) wanted to introduce a validation system as a development from a review. Gertrud Åström concluded the discussion by saying that the 15:53 Movement did not accept the argument that a salaries review causes administrative problems for the employer, and gave examples of workplaces that had no problems at all with salary reviews.

The politicians were in consensus on the next point: woman and men are to have equal right to full-time employment. Jonas Sjöstedt (Left Party) wanted this right to be enshrined in law, but Pernilla Gunther (Christian Democrat Party) rejected this.

“Some people cannot work full days, so they must not be forced to take full-time employment,” she said.

Jonas Sjöstedt replied by saying full-time employment is a right and the norm, and part-time must be an option..

The parties had different views on parent insurance, but the majority of panel members were in favour of increase in the number of months of leave for the father.

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