Women discuss trade unions

Issue 

Women discuss trade unions

By Leslie Warne

WOLLONGONG — Women are still under-represented in trade unions, though the situation has improved because of affirmative action programs, Victorian Trades Hall Council representative Martina Nightingale told a conference on women in unions here on March 21. The gathering was organised by the Wollongong Women's Centre and the South Coast Labour Council.

A recent VTHC survey found that "the largest gaps occur in the senior positions of branch officials ... and in the federal sphere, while the most notable achievements appear to have been made in the middle level positions on branch councils and executives, as shop-floor representatives, as organisers and as specialist officers". Specific programs are needed to change the situation at the top, Nightingale said.

The general decline in unionism could be redressed if unions adopted programs to increase the participation of women, Nightingale added.

NSW upper house MP Meredith Burgmann addressed the meeting on the Greiner government's Industrial Relations Act, saying the NSW style of enterprise bargaining will undermine women's progress towards equal pay. Currently, women earn 84.1% of the average male wage.