Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Tuesday, 1 May 1973
Page: 1539


Mr Lynch asked the Minister for Labour, upon notice:

(1)   What increase in (a) the national wages bill and (b) unit labour costs will be caused by the introduction of equal pay for both sexes.

(2)   What increase in (a) the national wages bill and (b) unit labour costs will be caused by the introduction of equal pay for both sexes in the (i) Commonwealth Public Service, (ii) motor vehicle industry, (iii) fuel and power industries, (iv) iron and steel industries, (v) stevedoring industry, (vi) building and construction industry, and, (vii) retailing industry.

(3)   Can he say what the inflationary effects will be in respect of parts (1) and (2).


Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I am informed that the answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   In a decision handed down on 15th December, 1972, in the 1972 Equal Pay Cases the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission adopted the principle of 'equal pay for work of equal value' for female workers employed under its awards and determinations of the Public Service Arbitrator. The Commission defined this principle as the fixation of award wage rates by a consideration of the work performed irrespective of the sex of the worker'. The Commission also decided that equal pay increases would be granted in three equal instalments so that one third is payable not later than 31st December 1973, half the remainder by 30th September 1974, and the balance by 30th June 1975.

The precise cost of applying this principle cannot be assessed with any degree of accuracy as it is impossible to predict in advance the value which industrial tribunals will place on work performed by female workers who have not been awarded equal pay in accordance with principles laid down by the Commission in its 1969 Equal Pay Cases Decision. In addition, there are important deficiencies in the available statistical information which would preclude any precise calculation of the cost.

Nevertheless, in its submissions to the resumed hearings of the National Wage Cases 1972-73 the Commonwealth at the request of the Commission put forward some estimates of the cost of introducing equal pay. These were based on a number of assumptions including the following:

(i)   Equal pay will flow to all females (adult and juniors) not already receiving equal pay whose wages and salaries are normally varied in accordance with awards and agreements of industrial tribunals, but not to other female employees.

(ii)   On average females not already receiving equal pay will receive a pay increase equivalent to the differential that existed immediately prior to the introduction of the total wage between male and female basic wage rates and adjusted for subsequent increases to the total wage granted in National Wage Cases.

It was estimated that the introduction of equal pay for work of equal value in Federal awards would add in the first year $50.4m or 0.2 per cent to the annual wages bill. When fully introduced, the cumulative increase in the national wages bill would be approximately $151. 2m or 0.7 per cent.

Because the States of New South Wales, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania (in respect of Crown employees only) have legislation governing the conditions for the granting of equal pay for females employed under their respective State awards, it cannot be assumed that the recent Equal Pay Decision of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission will flow to female workers employed under State awards in these States. However, if the principle of equal pay for work of equal value were applied in both Federal and State awards under the same conditions as determined by the Commission in its recent decision the national wages bill would be increased by approximately $149. lm or 0.7 per cent in the first year and by approximately $447.2m or 2.0 per cent when the principle is fully introduced. These estimates are based on the same assumptions as indicated in (i) and (ii) above.

If the introduction of equal pay bad no effect on productivity the estimated increase in unit labour costs would be of the same order as the estimated increase in the national wages bill. <2) It is estimated that the application of the Commission's recent equal pay decision in the Commonwealth Public Service would increase the wages bill in the Service by approximately $15m. This would be equivalent to an increase of .07 per cent in the national wages bill. As with the other estimates it must be noted that this figure is based on a number of assumptions and should therefore be taken as representing a rough order of magnitude only. The necessary statistical information to enable useful estimates to be made in respect of industries referred to in parts (ii) to (vii) of the question is not available.

(3)   For reasons given in the answers to parts (1) and (2) and because of the uncertain relationship between unit labour cost increases and _ price Increases, no precise assessment of the inflationary impact is possible. However, it is considered that any cost effects would be within the capacity of the economy.







Suggest corrections