Equal Pay Day shows pay gap in danger of widening

Equal Pay Day (today September 4) marks another year of concerning attacks on the wages and working conditions of Queensland women.

stressed_female_worker.jpgQueensland unions have warned the Abbott Government it will suffer electoral wipeout if it proceeds with plans to cut paid parental leave and penalty rates.

QCU General Secretary Ros McLennan says Queensland working women are insulted by the Abbott Government - on Equal Pay Day and every day - they are forced back to work early to leave their baby in childcare that does not exist, made to beg for the working conditions to care for their kids, then work until they drop with no dignity in retirement.

“Women cannot get Equal Pay when they are refused the conditions that allow them to work at all with children and caring responsibilities. If Treasurer Joe Hockey wants to get women into the workforce he has to address the issues making it impossible for them to go back to work.”

Women are already dealing with concerning levels of workplace discrimination, according to an Australian Human Rights Commission report which found that:

  • One in two mothers reported discrimination in the workplace ranging from negative attitudes through to being made redundant, restructured or dismissed.
  • 32% of mothers who were discriminated against left their workplace or resigned and mothers who experienced discrimination were less likely to return to their job or the workforce.

“Working women in Queensland are doing it tough enough at every stage of their working lives without Mr Abbott and Hockey making it tougher,” she said.

She said the proposed Paid Parental Leave cuts would stretch the pay gender gap but cutting Sunday penalty rates would make it into a yawning chasm.

Mr Abbott’s Productivity Commission review in August recommended cuts to Sunday penalty rates for workers in retail and hospitality, where the majority of workers are women.

According to ABS data, in Queensland 57 per cent of workers in these industries are women, compared with 46.8 per cent of female workers across all industries.

“By supporting cuts to Sunday penalty rates that could take up to $60 a week from female pay packets, Mr Abbott is putting further pressure on the gender pay gap,” she said.

“We invite our ‘Minister for Women’ Tony Abbott to admit that women are not a side interest or second class citizens, we make up 50% of the population and make workplace policy to reflect that,” Ms McLennan said.

“We invite Mr Abbott to start by doing the following in consultation with unions:

  • Retract cuts to Paid Parental Leave
  • Put in place enforceable Right to Return to Work provisions for women with children including the Right to Request Flexible Working arrangements to care for dependants with employers held accountable by an independent industrial umpire if they refuse
  • Reject the Productivity Commission report recommendations to cut penalty rates
  • Reinstate the Low Income Superannuation Subsidy and commit to consultation with Unions on further ways to address women retiring in poverty

“Until this happens we point out that the Abbott government has put working women last and working women have every right to do the same to them when an election is called.”

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