Women will be the biggest losers out of the Federal Governments radical changes to workplace laws, Annie Owens, NSW LHMU Secretary warned at an Evatt Foundation Seminar last week.
Child care workers racing to August pay equity case
“Child care workers in NSW face the real prospect of having spent years preparing a major pay equity case – which commences in August – and now they’re racing to get a good outcome before the State Commission is hit by the Federal Government proposals, Annie Owens told the seminar called to discuss the implications of the workplace changes for women.
No capacity to address historical injustices for women workers
It is a relatively new legal principle introduced in the NSW and Queensland jurisdictions which allows pay equity cases to be run which have the capacity to address the pay gap,” Annie Owens said.
” If these jurisdictions are lost then we will have no capacity to address historical injustices like these; Annie Owens warned.
Climb out of poverty wage will be undermined
Many child care workers – because of the extraordinarily low-pay are forced to live in real poverty, or to live at their parents’ home and/or get another job.
Our union, across Australia, has slowly been winning the childcare pay argument in the community and the Industrial Relations Commission.
But these gains will be undermined if the Federal Government does not change tack before introducing their proposed laws over the next few months, Annie Owens said.
Women will be hit harder
The Evatt Foundation seminar, which Annie Owens addressed, was called as part of the union movement campaign to educate key community sectors about the implications of the Federal Government’s planned attack on our rights at work.
At the seminar the NSW LHMU leader outlined some of the other areas where women workers will be hit harder because of these planned law changes.
Women move in and out of work a lot more than men so will come under more pressure to sign individual employment contracts, Annie Owens said.
These contracts are secretive documents denying a whole lot of our existing basic workplace rights – including annual leave, unpaid parental leave and personal leave as well as the weekly hours and wage rates.
Undermine co-operativeness in the workplace
In this environment people doing the same job will be paid differently. Past practice shows us who will get the lower pay if a woman and a man are doing exactly the same job.
These individual employment contracts undermine co-operativeness in the workplace and favour those who prefer a harsh, competitive, stab-you-in-the-back working environment.
The sacking laws will further undermine the job security of women.
Sacking laws will hit women worse
Because it will be a lot easier to sack people women, who are often the lowest on the job totem pole, will be the first to lose out.
Women already are occupying jobs with the least security because they tend more often to be either part-time workers or casual workers.
Their lives as part-time workers are often precarious because of constantly shifting rosters, start and finishing times.
More demands on part-time and casual workers
These part-time workers will find more demands on them to do additional work because constraints on what an employer can demand – such as the Award – will now disappear.
More women than men occupy casual workers jobs – these casual jobs are even less secure than part-time work without sick leave, annual leave or public holidays.
However the casual workers do have pay loadings of between 15% to 20 %.
Pay loadings disappear without any balancing wins for casual workers
Now casual workers will face these loadings disappearing – while they gain nothing extra in terms of sick leave, annual leave or public holidays.
Recently unions have won the right for casual workers to convert to permanent status, if they wish. Now those gains can also be expected to be undermined.
Don’t sit back and just accept these changes
However Annie Owens argues that working women don’t have to just sit back and accept these changes .
A strong workplace union can stop employers forcing many of these unwanted job cuts onto women workers.
Join the union and work together to get majority workplace membership
Over the next few weeks and months make sure your workmates have joined the union. Work together to get majority union membership at your workplace.
And then get an LHMU organiser to help you democratically elect a workplace delegate.
” We won’t have to accept these draconian cuts if we can build workplace power by asking our workmates to join the union so together we have the strength to demand we have a say, we have a voice in our workplace futures.”
” If we build strong united voices in the workplace we can say enough is enough.