Women earn $150 a week less than male employees and the Government’s planned changes to the award system will make the lack of fair pay for working women even worse says the ACTU.

Commenting on the release of a major Victorian Government report on pay
equity for women today, ACTU President Sharan Burrow said:

“Today is International Women’s Day 2005 when we remember the gains women
have made in achieving the same opportunities and rights as men and identify the
areas where further action is needed.

One of the major challenges facing Australian women remains the unfairness of
the low wages typically paid to women at work.

On average, women working full time are paid 15% less than male colleagues
and earn an average of $150 a week less than men.

The gender pay gap is not getting better and changes in the job market mean
that more and more women are being employed as casuals and in low paid jobs.

  • Around a third of all working mothers are employed casually and have no
    access to a paid day off when they or a family member is sick, or to paid leave
    for annual holidays.
  • ACTU research shows that over the last three years more than half of the new
    jobs for women paid less $500 a week.
  • The Federal Government’s planned changes to workplace laws will make matters
    worse for working women.

    Crucially, the Government is considering scrapping skill-based award rates of
    pay that have been essential in narrowing the gender pay gap for women in
    female-dominated occupations such as childcare workers and librarians.

    Historically women in these occupations have been underpaid when compared to
    male-oriented occupations of similar complexity and skills.

    The award wages system has been critical in allowing women to make a case
    before the independent wages umpire to have their work paid fairly according to
    comparable other work.

    Cases such as the one earlier this year brought by Victorian childcare
    workers which led to a pay rises of more than $64 a week would no longer be
    possible under the Government’s plans.”