Women workers are sick of waiting: equal pay now!

May 19, 2011
Not happy Julia.
Not happy Julia.

With the federal government blatantly refusing to even utter the words “equal pay”, the need for grassroots initiative and action is vital in achieving these reforms for women workers.

Pay Justice Action is a collective focused on campaigning for equal pay for women, as well as demanding the abolition of youth wages and the scrapping of the basics card, which was part of the NT Intervention.

In addition to grassroots campaigning the collective has also started an online petition to gather signatures in support of equal pay for women.

Whichever way the numbers are analysed women workers in Australia still not being paid equally with their male colleagues.

This is still the case today despite the 1972 ruling in favour of equal pay for equal work of equal value. On average, women workers earn 18% less than men working full time.

Over a lifetime this results in a woman working full time earning nearly $1 million less than a man. Given that this ruling was almost four decades ago, I say it’s about time that the Federal Government paid up.

To mark the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day this year, the Minister for the Status of Women Kate Ellis, announced changed reporting obligations for businesses under the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Act.

However, these new reporting obligations only require employers to report the gender composition of the workplace; hence the reason the ALP were pushing more women in boardrooms as part of their IWD celebrations; and a set of gender equality indicators which “focuses on outcomes for women and men in the workplace.”

Although reporting on these issues for businesses will now be mandatory, the requirement for organisations to develop their own workplace programs has now been removed.

Despite these changes, nowhere has the government mentioned that female employees will be paid equally with their male colleagues.

Once again the government has refused to even so much as acknowledge that there is a pay gap between men and women. In a speech at the National Press Club in Canberra on International Women’s Day, the minister seemed to be more concerned with the name change of the act covering women’s rights in the workplace than any genuine reforms.

Pay Justice Action calls on the government to provide full funding for the immediate implementation of the Social and Community Sector Equal Remuneration case — including funding to State and Territory governments to meet their obligations — and to act as a role model by immediately closing the pay gap in the federal public service which have lead to agencies employing higher numbers of lower paid female workers.

Equal pay can be funded immediately by taxing big business and redirecting funds from spending on war and corporate welfare.

Enough is enough, equal pay now!

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