Australian working women want a world free from war, a workplace that accommodates family responsibilities and a decent quality of life.

Unionists reaffirmed these core issues at a meeting of the ACTU Womens Committee today on the eve of International Womens Day.

“International Womens Day 2003 finds Australian women articulating very clearly that we do not want a war with Iraq, we expect quality health, education and child care services and paid maternity leave in family friendly workplaces,” ACTU President Sharan Burrow said.

A recent ACTU survey of 8000 workers, found that 87% of female respondents identified family friendly provisions as the key priority in the workplace.

In anticipation of the ACTUs Work and Family Test Case, due to be heard in the Australian Industrial Relations Commission, unions urge the Howard Government to deliver on his interest in part-time work and supply viable alternatives to satisfy modern work and family demands.

“In a society in which the sole breadwinner is the minority, most women of childbearing years are in the workforce and family friendly provisions top the list of womens concerns. John Howard must wake up and listen to women workers.”

“Working families need support during 4 key phases or milestones. The first is the birth of the child, followed by care in the early years. Next is the transition back to work, and finally the challenge of managing work and family,” Ms Burrow said.

These industrial changes would formulate a broader policy response to relieve modern families and would also include family policy, population policy and labour force arrangements.

“Australian women will be watching very closely on federal budget night to see if Mr Howard will recognise the social and economic value of paid maternity leave. Even peak employer bodies such as the Australian Industry Group are telling the government the same thing,” Ms Burrow said.