|Equal pay supporters in Sydney. Image: Australian Services Union.|
Thousands of people rallied across the country on Thursday in what was Australia's biggest equal pay march since the 1970s.
Organised by the Australian Services Union (ASU), the rallies were held in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Canberra, Adelaide and Darwin, along with a number of regional areas, including Lismore, Nowra, Inverell, Rockhampton, Toowoomba, Mackay, Townsville, Cairns, Moranbah and Alice Springs.
ASU assistant national secretary Linda White said the campaign for gender pay equty was far from over.
“Women in full time paid work still earn 18 per cent less on average than men, which equates to $1 million less over a lifetime,” Ms White said.
The rallies were held in support of the ASU’s equal pay test case to challenge low wages in the female-dominated community sector. The test case also involves the Health Services Union, Australian Education Union, Australian Workers’ Union and the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union.
The equal pay case seeks to lift the pay of more than 200,000 workers in the social and community sector by an average of 25 per cent.
President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), Sharan Burrow, said the landmark test case was crucial to extending the principle of fair pay rates for female-dominated industries.
“The latest data shows that women’s pay has slipped even further behind that of men to an average of 18 per cent, or $1 million over their working lives,” Ms Burrow said.
“The gap is so wide that a woman would have to work an extra 66 days a year to earnt the same as a man.
“It also means that women have far less in their superannuation accounts to retire on, particularly if their career is interrupted by child-bearing.”
Ms Burrow said the Federal Government must address a number of critical measures, including flexible working arrangements, accessible and affordable childcare and improved reporting and auditing, at the workplace level, of equal pay.
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