New alliance calls for equal pay

Working women still earn 17 per cent less than men, says the Equal Pay Alliance. Image: iStock.

By Angela Dorizas

A new alliance has called on government to close the gender pay gap.

The Equal Pay Alliance was officially launched today to coincide with Equal Pay Day. It comprises 135 representatives from business, unions and government, including the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU).

ACTU president Sharan Burrow said it was unacceptable that working women were still being “short-changed” in pay packets.

“It’s almost 40 years since Australian women were officially granted equal pay for equal work,” Burrow said.

“Yet women still earn 17 per cent less than men or $1 million less over a lifetime.”

She said women were now more likely to gain tertiary qualifications than men, but still earned $2000 less than male graduates.

“On the one hand, women have access to unprecedented levels of education and employment,” Burrow said.

“Yet women continue to shoulder most of the unpaid housework and care of children.

“A critical lack of childcare options and inflexible work practices is stopping them from successfully combining work and caring responsibilities.”

In an open letter addressed to the Minister for the Status of Women, Tanya Plibersek, the Alliance recommended that government compel companies to reveal pay rates.

Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick, a member of the Alliance, said the Australian Government should introduce legislation forcing companies to disclose their male and female pay rates in annual reports.

The National Foundation for Australian Women (NFAW) said government should also introduce mandatory reporting in the public sector and limit government contracts to businesses demonstrating that they had effective equal opportunity and equal pay strategies in place.

The Equal Pay Alliance has called for:

  • better regulation of flexible work arrangements for women and men with caring responsibilities and increased protection from discrimination on the grounds of family and carer responsibilities;
  • improved quality, accessible and affordable childcare including after school hours and vacation care;
  • improved equal employment opportunity practices in workplaces;
  • meaningful reporting by employers of equal pay and employment opportunities;
  • regular independent monitoring and reporting to the Australian Parliament of progress to achieve gender equality, including progress towards achieving equal pay;
  • a greater role for government agencies in auditing, promoting and implementing equal pay and employment opportunity programs in workplaces; and
  • proper valuation and funding of wages and conditions for work traditionally carried out by women.

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