Renewed strength in battle for equal pay

There were over 200 supporters at the Equal Pay Dinner, hosted in September by Unions NSW. The dinner paid tribute to decades of struggle for pay justice for women workers.

Guest speaker was Clea Smith, twice Cricket World Cup winner and national manager of the Australian Cricketers Association, who spoke of the cricketers’ most recent wage negotiations and positive outcome. She attributed the players’ success to unity, ruthless advocacy and the use of collective experience and knowledge in pursuit of pay justice.

Other speakers included Unions NSW Secretary Mark Morey and Research Officer Kate Minter.

Assistant Secretary IEUA NSW/ACT Pam Smith attended the dinner with other IEU representatives who had been actively campaigning on equal pay for many years.

“The IEU is proud to have taken its place with other unions and women’s committees, fighting for decades to remove the pay gap.

“Early childhood teachers don’t have pay parity with comparative professionals such as primary school teachers or for that matter with male engineers, IT professionals or scientists. Our Union argues that this is because early childhood teachers are mainly female and are seen to be in a ‘caring’ role.

“We are currently taking our case to the Fair Work Commission and look forward to presenting evidence by the end of this year,” said Smith.

Equal pay gap short changes women

The national equal pay gap has hovered between 15% and 19% for the past 20 years. Currently, the equal pay gap is 16.2%. This means that women earn on average $261.10 less per week than men.

The gendered income inequality is magnified in retirement due to the current superannuation arrangements. The Australian Human Rights Commission Report, Accumulating Poverty; Women’s Experience over Lifetime (2009) has shown that the average superannuation payouts to women are just over half that of men, with many women having little or no superannuation. This is despite more women participating in the paid workforce than ever before.

In addition, women, particularly single women, are at greater risk of experiencing poverty, housing stress and homelessness. Women are effectively losing a year’s income every 5.5 years. It is time to address this unfairness.

“In Australia we must redouble our efforts to achieve gender equality and the IEUA NSW/ACT Branch is putting significant resources into this battle for early childhood teachers,” said Smith.