Happy Equal Pay Day!

Tomorrow, September 8, is Equal Pay Day — calculated to be the point to which the average woman must work to earn the same money an average man earns over the financial year ending in June.

Each year, the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) plots a chart of men’s and women’s wages to find how far behind women are in the gender equity pay gap, and this year it finds the average full-time employed woman in Australia earns 16.2 per cent less than the average full-time employed man and needs to put in more than two months’ extra work to earn as much as a man does in a year.   

Teachers in NSW don’t individually negotiate their own wages. Instead, we collectively fight for wage increases as part of the Award process — a new round of which is about to begin. You’d hope that this might mean there is no gender pay gap in our membership. Sadly, according to WGEA, there is still a 9 per cent gender pay gap in education.

In teaching, it’s not so much that women are paid less for the same job as men but that women aren’t getting as many opportunities to get into the better paid and more secure jobs.

At Women’s Conference in 1980, the then Education Minister, Paul Landa, announced recognition of full-time childrearing for determining salaries and service credits for unpaid maternity leave. This has gone a long way to reducing the gender pay gap for Federation members.

The Department is now trying to undo these provisions, which have been in place for more than 35 years. In negotiations, the Department has agreed to back down on removing service credits for maternity leave but is persisting with no longer recognising childrearing for determining a teacher’s salary. This is a backwards step that members must stand together to fight.

The ACTU is marking Equal Pay Day by calling on all members of parliament to implement the following measures seen as vital for improving economic security for women and achieving equality at work:

  • close the gender pay gap
  • end discrimination against women
  • provide support for working mothers and carers
  • remove structural inequalities in the superannuation system
  • improve the aged pension
  • address the crisis in housing affordability
  • apply a gender lens to changes to the retirement income system.

Federation and the Australian Education Union are committed to gender equity because we are committed to a more just society. We have fought and won conditions that chip away at the root causes of the gender pay gap and we continue to fight for provisions which protect women’s rights at work.

Any member interested in providing input or feedback into the updated AEU Gender Equity Strategy being developed is invited to contact the Women’s Coordinator on womenscoordinator@nswtf.org.au. The gender pay gap in education is lower than the Australian average, but it’s still too big. We won’t rest until its non-existent.

In the meantime, Happy Equal Pay Day!

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