The Australia Centre for Leadership for Women (CLW) has been running a Pay Equity Campaign (http://www.leadershipforwomen.com.au/Pay%20Equity%20Campaign.htm) since June 2010 which has received a high level of endorsement from national women’s and public service associations. In line with the recommendations of the Making it Fair Report released in November 2009 by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Employment and Workplace Relations, women want to know who will demonstrate leadership in implementing and monitoring pay equity strategies across industries as well as within occupations in Australia?
The Make it Fair Report recommends proposed amendments to the Fair Work Act 2009, greater powers for the Sex Discrimination Commissioner to act on wage discrimination and the establishment of a specialist Pay Equity Unit within Fair Work Australia with a broad mandate for change.
There are a host of significant reasons that justify pay equity for women including:
- That increasing women’s participation in the workforce will lead to increases in productivity for the nation
- This will sustain the tax base of an ageing population.
- This will cease historical disadvantages in remuneration levels between women and men.
- This will cease direct and indirect discrimination against women linked to legal, social, industrial and economic factors.
- This will ensure equitable access to leave and training and promotion opportunities will be available to women who have taken maternity leave and/or returned to work part time and/or sought flexible work hours.
- This will ensure that structural arrangements in the negotiation of wages will cease to impact disproportionately on women.
- This will ensure that the system will facilitate fairer outcomes to value women and their work, traditional or non-traditional, paid or unpaid.
- It will ensure women’s economic security and independence.
Most importantly, whoever forms the next government must ensure that Pay equity as the right to equal pay for work of equal value is respected unconditionally and unequivocally in Australia. This will be of international significance given that according to the International Labor Organisation’s 2008/09 Report (Gender Equality at the Heart of Decent Work), the pay gap between genders is still high and closing very slowly.