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Unions back Albanese’s pledge to close gender pay gap

  • May 03 2022
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Unions back Albanese’s pledge to close gender pay gap

By Paul Hemsley
May 03 2022

An electoral promise from Labor to make gender pay equity an objective of the Fair Work Act has been hailed as a “watershed moment” from industry peak bodies who have traditionally advocated for stronger female representation in the workforce.

gender pay gap

Unions back Albanese’s pledge to close gender pay gap

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  • May 03 2022
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An electoral promise from Labor to make gender pay equity an objective of the Fair Work Act has been hailed as a “watershed moment” from industry peak bodies who have traditionally advocated for stronger female representation in the workforce.

gender pay gap

The announcement came from Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese at Labor’s election campaign launch in Perth, where he outlined the fundamentals of the party’s Secure Australian Jobs Plan, which aims to overhaul existing industrial relations policies to create more secure working conditions for women, carers or ‘gig economy’ workers.

The big promise meant that a potential Labor government would “strengthen the ability and capacity of the Fair Work Commission to order pay increases for workers in low-paid, female-dominated industries”.

Mr Albanese’s announcement was warmly welcomed by the Australian Services Union, which has pushed heavily for federal government intervention on closing the gender pay gap for decades.
Assistant National Secretary of the union, Emeline Gaske said women simply want equal pay, and making it easier to make equal pay applications in the Fair Work Act will go a long way to achieving that outcome.

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“Our union represents workers in some of the most women-dominated professions, such as aged care, disability and mental health workers who support our most vulnerable,” Ms Gaske said.

“We won a critical pay equity decision in the Fair Work Commission over a decade ago which recognised the need to increase pay for social and community services workers, but it is still the only such decision that has been made by the Fair Work Commission ever.”

“Women know that doesn’t make sense – we experience the inequity of pay every day and know that it is real and unfair,” Ms Gaske said.

She said the announcement from the Opposition Leader will have a “huge impact” on those who rely on the community and social services system.

In the lead-up to a federal election where decisions of this magnitude are critical to ensuring Australia’s workforce can sustain the resources necessary to deliver essential services to vulnerable people in highly sensitive circumstances, the Australian Services Union feels it’s crucial to ensure female-dominated professions feature better remuneration to ensure staff can be retained.

In a bleak assessment of the present circumstances, Ms Gaske warned Australia was looking at a future where there are simply not enough workers in areas like aged care, disability, domestic violence support and other social services.

“There is already a huge shortage of workers in these sectors. We must recognise that low pay is a disincentive for people to work in these jobs and that has to change,” Ms Gaske said.
She also hailed the addition of expert panels to advise the Fair Work Commission as providing necessary expertise and support.

“The Care and Community Sector Panel will play a critical role in ensuring that workers in community and disability services are able to get fair pay and conditions,” she said.

The gender pay gap is a big problem that’s persisted in Australia due to discrimination and bias in hiring and pay decisions, women and men working in different industries and different jobs, with female-dominated industries and jobs attracting lower wages, according to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA).

Other reasons according to WGEA include women’s disproportionate share of unpaid caring and domestic work, the lack of workplace flexibility to accommodate caring and other responsibilities - especially in senior roles - and women’s greater time out of the workforce impacting career progression and opportunities.

Unions back Albanese’s pledge to close gender pay gap
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