By Ged Kearney, President of the ACTU
Today is Equal Pay Day. Technically it is the day on which average earnings for women ‘catch up’ to what men made in the last financial year.
Equal pay day falls on this day because it has taken an additional 70 days for women to earn enough to make the gap in pay they receive on average compared to men.
All too often it’s seen as merely a statistic - mind you a startling statistic - the difference between men and women’s pay is a whopping $261.10 per week for full time working women.
That seems bad enough, but in fact it is so much more. It’s about understanding the reality of how being a woman in the workplace plays out differently to being a man. It’s about less pay and the ‘gender pay gap’, discrimination against women coming back to work after having a baby, or missing out on promotions when you know you can do the job.
It’s about being overlooked for board positions or being forced to work casually because of caring responsibilities. All of this means you don’t get paid if you or your kids are sick, you don’t get training and you definitely don’t progress up the career ladder.
These issues play out right across a woman’s life, from the time she gets pocket money as a kid, to when she finally needs to retire.
As Minister for Women and Employment, Michaelia Cash is in a unique position to deal with these issues. She can make a huge difference to women’s lives simply by endorsing the recommendations of the senate economics committee report ‘A Husband Is Not A Retirement Plan’.
There are lots of excellent recommendations in the report - agreed to by all political parties. One very important recommendation is expanding paid parental leave to from 18 weeks to 26.
Having more paid time at home with your baby means quality outcomes for the whole family, less worry about money and will definitely help address the gender pay gap.
Everyone, including the government, says they are committed to making sure more women enter the workforce and many women need decent work and a decent income to survive. But unbelievably Minister Cash and Malcolm Turnbull are going to keep the terrible Abbott plan to cut PPL.
This simply isn’t good enough and ignores problems that should be front-and-centre for a minster who could be a champion for women in the workplace.
Every year, women remain caught behind men in the endless effort to provide for themselves, their families and their retirements.
Every day that we fail to address this problem it further entrenches an imbalance that runs directly contrary to the idea that in this country, you get a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work - and that goes for everyone.