Gender equality: Unions NSW launches strong plan for action

The IEU joined Unions NSW at the launch of its 2021 Gender Equality Position Paper on 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. This brief paper defines the problem; provides evidence; and lists actions for change.

While speakers expressed exhaustion that the gender pay gap and violence against women persist, they also shared their determination to make measurable progress.

Natalie Lang, Secretary Australian Services Union NSW/ACT (pictured, speaking): “I'm not tired from the pandemic. I’m tired that after decades of struggle, we still have a considerable gender pay gap. And that’s why this paper is going to turn into action and outcomes. It’s important that we come together and get over ‘the tireds’. We have a gender pay gap because our country’s not good at valuing those industries that are dominated by women. I get that burning fire in my belly that says, ‘we’re not going to accept the gender pay gap anymore’.

As trade unionists, we’re demanding that paid family violence leave is a universal automatic right for every single worker and we won’t rest until we achieve it. It is unacceptable that a woman’s right to safety is dependent on who her employer is.”

Judith Kiejda, President, Unions NSW : “We are tired. We'd love to enjoy a bit of downtime. Unfortunately, the things that should change, over many years, haven't – we’ve made inroads, but we're not there yet. And people don't understand the incredible impact this stuff [harassment and assault] has on people. It comes into your family relationships and raising the kids and all sorts of things. So we have to make sure that we really do something about it.”

Nicola Roxon, chair of HESTA, Australia’s first female Attorney-General (2011-13): “Gender equality is the unfinished business of our time – and it does indeed feel like that. I commend you for launching this paper and the action you plan to take. When I reflect on my time in government I know change is possible. Change can happen. It needs vision and passion and insight, but also grit and determination and planning and a million dull other things to go with it too. It’s really important that these issues are being brought together and Unions NSW is shining a light on them.”

Angela Priestley, founding editor, Women’s Agenda: “The reality is that 44 percent of Australians work in small businesses that don’t have any policies or procedures or complaints processes around sexual harassment. But there have been businesses that have experienced moments where they’ve ended up on front pages and I’ve seen boards having to respond.”

Read the position paper:

Monica Crouch