WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOLITION OF STATE INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS SYSTEMS The Government is proposing to abolish state industrial Protest! The changes prop osed by Howar d will set back years by Austra lia’s PAYdestroyed by EQUITY Chances commissions, thereby consolidating the federal Government’s over the last 30 control of industrial relations matters. This change threatens the gains made . working women important gains for pay equity achieved in recent years in w you feel, industrial relations changes nment know ho the state systems. Beginning with the ground-breaking To let the Gover l: NSW Pay Equity Inquiry in the late 1990s, a number of states write to or emai have held pay equity inquiries to analyse the nature and Kay Patterson causes of pay inequity in their award systems. As a result en’s Issues of these inquiries, the state industrial systems of New South Minister for Wom ood Highway, Burw Wales, Queensland and Tasmania have adopted new equal Shop 3, 10-40 VIC 3151 Burwood East v.au remuneration principles. These principles provide a vehicle email@example.com for increasing award rates of pay in female dominated jobs senator.kcpatte and industries where it can be shown that women’s work has Pru Goward ommissioner iscrimination C been undervalued. Federal Sex D 2001 , Sydney NSW The principles adopted by these states provide GPO Box 5128 gov.au manrights. advantages over the federal system’s equal pay provisions, complaints@hu which require proof that gender pay differences are the result of outright discrimination against women — a much John Howard Prime Minister more difficult thing to prove. dney NSW 2001 GPO Box 59, Sy fm Under the new state principles, women (for example, .gov.au/email.c librarians, library assistants and archivists in NSW) have Go to: www.pm s already received significant increases in award pay. There Kevin Andrew ent & Workpla ce Relations are many more female dominated occupations which could Minister for Employm 08 oncaster VIC 31 benefit from the use of these principles, and this will never PO Box 124, D firstname.lastname@example.org rews.m occur if the state industrial systems are abolished. Email: kevin.and IMPACT ON PAY EQUITY OF PROPOSED CHANGES Produced by the ounced In summary, the industrial changes being pursued by the federal Government will have three serious effects on National Pay Equity Coalition (NPEC) Ministe r has ann relations women’s pay: c/- 66 Campbell Street, Glebe NSW 2037 Th e Prime es to industrial ly 2005, ang 1 Ju * first, cutting back the powers of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission, and the awards that it enforces, will Contacts major ch systems after es control k disadvantage more women than men because the award Fran Hayes laws and Government ta these e system protects the wages of proportionally more women; email@example.com when th enate. Some of ant impact ic * second, destroying the safety net for collective agreements and AWAs will disadvantage women who rely on collective Suzanne Hammond of the S will have a signif n working ia agreements and AWAs for their pay and conditions; firstname.lastname@example.org changes ility of Austral ity. b * third, abolishing the state industrial systems in favour of the Meredith Burgmann on the a achieve pay equ federal system will wipe away the much stronger equal pay MeredithBurgmann@parliament.nsw.gov.au o rights which have only just been won in those systems. Endorsed by women t Women’s Electoral Lobby Australia Business and Professional Women NSW Branch Australian Women’s Health Network PAY EQUITY IN AUSTRALIA- IS THERE ATTACKS ON THE AWARD SYSTEM ATTACKS ON COLLECTIVE BARGAINING STILL A PROBLEM? The Government is proposing to reduce the benefits available In support of its strategy to encourage direct bargaining under awards by taking measures which will reduce the real between employers and employees rather than collective Australian women are better placed than women in many value of minimum award rates over time and remove conditions bargaining, the Government is planning to make it much other countries, largely because of Australia’s history of having from awards. more difficult for unions to undertake collective bargaining or a centralised wage fixing system. But there is still a long way The Government intends to remove the role of the setting of organise action in support of collective bargaining. to go. At present, in Australia, full-time women still earn only minimum award rates from the Australian Industrial Relations The Government also proposes to make it possible for 82% of full-time men’s earnings. The gender pay gap is much Commission to a new Government appointed body, the Australian AWAs to override collective agreements at any time, thus greater if part-time workers are included in the equation. Fair Pay Commission. The new body will also adjust minimum placing employees under more pressure to agree to AWAs junior, training and disability wages, award classification wages and during the life of a collective agreement. Undermining CENTRALISATION AND PAY EQUITY casual loadings. Presently the AIRC adjusts minimum wages after collective agreements in favour of AWAs will generally mean The international evidence primarily shows that the more reviewing submissions in open hearings from unions, employers, lower pay for employees, especially women employees. centralised the industrial relations system, the better the pay the Government and interested community groups. There is Recently released ABS data indicates that women employees equity result for women. A centralised system is one where no indication that the new body will operate in such an open or on AWAs earn 11% less per hour than women on collective pay is set at a national or industry level; a decentralised system independent manner. Although the Government claims wage agreements. Furthermore, the gender pay gap is 10% greater is one where wages are negotiated at an enterprise level, or, rates will not be reduced by the Fair Pay Commission, the Prime under AWAs than it is under collective agreements. in its most extreme form, at an individual level between a Minister’s statement makes no commitment to raise minimum single worker and an employer. In Australia, pay is set at a wages above 2005 rates, once these have been finalised. DESTRUCTION OF THE SAFETY NET FOR national or industry level by awards, at an enterprise level by The Government, which has already reduced the number of COLLECTIVE AGREEMENTS AND AWAS enterprise agreements (often underpinned by awards), and at working conditions which the AIRC can include in federal awards The Government has announced that it will drastically strip an individual level by individual contracts, including Australian to 20 ‘allowable matters’ is seeking to further reduce the award back the standard which collective and individual agreements Workplace Agreements (AWAs). Australia’s centralised safety net by removing several more of these allowable matters. must meet to be registered by an independent tribunal. Until system has been presided over by the Australian Industrial Although the Government has held back for now on removing now, both types of agreements have had to pass the no- Relations Commission and state industrial tribunals. skill based career structures from awards, it has announced a 12 disadvantage test in relation to awards. Awards currently month review of award classification structures with the ominous MOVE TO DECENTRALISATION contain award rates of pay and conditions included in the 20 objective of ‘rationalising’ these structures. Skill based career allowable matters, set by the Australian Industrial Relations structures have only recently been inserted in some awards in The Government is strongly committed to increasing the Commission. The new standard against which agreements female dominated industries and occupations, providing long- decentralisation of wages bargaining. The Federal Treasurer, will be measured will include only five minimums: the minimum awaited opportunities for improvements in pay equity. Peter Costello, has stated “We should be trying to move to an award rates set by the Fair Pay Commission and a bare four industrial relations system where the predominant instrument WHY A STRONG AWARD SYSTEM IS IMPORTANT matters set directly by the Government via legislation. Women is the individual contract.” (The Age, 19 February 2005). workers employed under AWAs and collective agreements, For this reason, the Government is attacking both the FOR WOMEN’S PAY as well as those reliant on awards only, are likely to suffer lower award system and collective bargaining, and making it easier Despite the growth of enterprise bargaining and Australian wages and poorer conditions as a result of these measures. for employees to be pressured into signing AWAs as an Workplace Agreements, 1.6 million Australian working people alternative to awards and agreements. The Government has (19.9% of workers) still rely only on awards to protect their pay also announced that it will reduce the current standards for and conditions, and 60% of these are women. They are generally collective agreements and AWAs. found in industries where women are heavily concentrated, including accommodation, cafes and restaurants, retail trade and health and community services. So any attack on the award system, particularly on minimum rates, is likely to have a disproportionate effect on women’s pay.