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Equal Pay Day 2017 – 4 September, 2017
This year, Equal Pay Day is Monday, 4 September. Equal Pay Day is calculated to mark the additional time from the end of the financial year that women must work to earn the same as men.
The Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) has published its annual fact sheet, using data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, and has calculated that the present national gender pay gap is approximately 15.3 per cent. This represents a 0.9 percentage point decrease on 2016 statistics. The fact sheet states that the average weekly ordinary full-time wage in 2017 for women, across all industries and occupations, was $1387.10, compared with $1638.30 for men.
WGEA also noted that in the comparison of the gender pay gap by industry, the gap in education and training is 10.9 per cent down from 12.2 per cent in 2016. It further identified the difference between the private and public sectors as 19.3 per cent and 10.8 per cent, respectively. Since 1997, the gender pay gap in the public sector has been “considerably lower” than the private sector.
The WGEA report states that despite the way salaries are established (usually by award, collective or individual agreement), data shows men, on average, will have higher weekly total cash earnings “regardless of the method by which the pay is set”.
The pay gap increases to 20 per cent for the 45 to 54 age group. Women in this age group are more likely to have spent time out of the workforce to care for children. WGEA said that “as a result of the extra time women spend in unpaid care work, they have fewer promotion opportunities and are less likely than men to hold highly compensated jobs”.
WGEA Director Libby Lyons said: “Equal Pay Day allows us a chance to highlight some of the difficulties women face in the workplace and start a conversation on what we can do to address these issues.” She encouraged people to join the conversation on social media using #EPD2017.
A brief history of equal pay
Until 1973, many women received lower pay simply because they were women. The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) website, “Worksite – your rights at work for students”, includes a brief timeline of the history of equal pay in Australia.
In 1951, a convention was brought forward by the International Labour Organisation of the United Nations. It recommended “equal remuneration for men and women workers for work of equal value … with a view to providing a classification of jobs without regard to sex”.
In 1960, equal pay for work of equal value was awarded, although specifically female work was not included.
In 1969, the ACTU mounted a test case to get rid of the 25 per cent difference between pay rates. The court ruled that women should get 85 per cent of the male wage.
In 1972, it was decided that women would be awarded entirely equal pay. That is, 100 per cent of the male wage. A decision of the Arbitration Commission stated women who were performing the same work as men should get the same award rate of pay. It meant you could no longer have lower female rates for the same job.
The commission’s decision automatically applied to women under federal awards but only covered about 40 per cent of women in the workforce. This led to an enormous campaign from unions to change the various state awards, and was made particularly complicated because claims had to be heard on a state-by-state basis.
In 1973, the commission set a minimum wage for all adults and in 1974 dropped the concept of “family support” as part of the wage system.
Something for your staff room
Federation presented the poster, A Quick History of Women Teachers’ Rights in NSW, at Women’s Conference on Saturday, 26 August. It will soon be available from your local Organiser or the Women’s Coordinator. We encourage you to put it on display in your staff room or on the Federation noticeboard at your workplace.
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