Due to the ever-widening gender pay gap, Australian women are effectively working for free on International Women’s Day on Sunday, 8 March.

Speaking on International Women’s Day, ACTU President Ged Kearney called for the Abbott Government to ensure women are not left behind.

“The ABS figures are clear, Australian women earn on average $298.10 per week less than Australian men across all industries,” Ms Kearney said.

“That means from 1 January until 9 March – 68 days – Australian women are effectively working for free.”

“The Abbott Government isn’t doing enough and only last week announced that it is watering down rules for workplace reporting on gender inequality.”

“How can we identify where and why gender pay gaps exist, and take action to address discrimination and barriers women face if we don’t have meaningful data?”

Ms Kearney said the Abbott Government needed to acknowledge insecure work as a key driver behind the gender pay gap.

“Due to the lack of family friendly working arrangements, many women are forced into low paid, low skilled and mostly insecure work with no sick leave, annual leave or job security.”

“It’s obvious that more needs to be done yet the Abbott Government continues to perpetuate the problem by failing to enact policies to ensure the rights of working women are protected.”

“Having more women in paid employment increases government revenue through income tax, increases economic demand through higher household wealth and spending, and improves economic independence for women with less reliance on welfare.”

“International Women’s Day should be a day to celebrate how far we’ve come but also be a day to reflect and, most importantly, urgently act to address gender inequality.”
Australian Unions call on the government to:

  • Expand the existing paid parental leave scheme to 26 weeks (at the minimum wage) and include superannuation;
  • Increase childcare funding;
  • Target funding to ensure social, community and care workers, who are mostly women, receive decent wages and conditions;
  • Support the ACTU’s award review application to ensure employees have the right to return to work part-time following parental leave;
  • Revoke the Fair Work Amendment Bill’s proposal to allow employers to ask parents with caring responsibilities to trade off wages and conditions in return for family friendly hours;
  • Boost rather than water down the Workplace Gender Equality reporting legislation.

Media contact: Kara Douglas 0418 793 885