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Pay equity and workplace bargaining

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Pay equity for women workers will continue to be a priority under the Government's system of workplace bargaining, Senator Peter Cook, Minister for Industrial Relations, said today.

Senator Cook has officially launched the Government's Equal Pay Policy Statement at the Pay Equity in Progress conference in Melbourne.

The conference was organised by the Victorian Trades Hall Council and the Equal Pay Unit of the Department of Industrial Relations.

'The Government's Equal Pay Policy Statement is released to coincide with the shift in Australia's wage fixing arrangements to the workplace.

'The central issue now for pay equity is workplace bargaining, which has important implications for women workers who are often vulnerable at times of change.

'For this reason the Government's system of workplace bargaining contains important safeguards to protect equity.

'Minimum award standards must be the basis of all agreements reached, and agreements must be approved by the Australian Industrial Relations Commission.

'The Government will introduce legislation that ensures that all workers affected by an agreement have been consulted.

'These safeguards will ensure that particular groups of workers are not exploited or discriminated against.

'This contrasts with the total lack of safeguards in the wages system advocated by the Opposition.

'The Opposition's conflict-based wages system would allow employers to attack workers' award wages and conditions, particularly those in weak bargaining positions who are often women.

'The Opposition's policies as outlined in their consumption tax package make a mockery of recent statements by Liberal women spokespersons that the Opposition is committed to achieving pay equity.

16 March 1992





Since 1969 the Liberal Party has positively opposed pay equity. The Liberals opposed both landmark equal pay decisions in 1969 and 1972, claiming the economy could not bear the cost. It was left to the union movement and Labor governments to deliver the goods.

'After a dramatic increase in womens' wages following these cases, the earnings gap between women and men widened during the Fraser administration.

'If these Liberal spokespersons fully support pay equity, then they would recognise that the Coalition's consumption tax package provides no help for working women.

'The Liberals seek to undermine the very institutions that have delivered improved pay for women such as the award system, the Industrial Relations Commission and unions.

'The wages system supported by the Labor Government has consistently put a priority on reducing the gap between women's and men's wages.

'Central to this strategy has been the restructuring of awards. For the first time, skills-based career paths supported by training are being put in place in many areas where women are employed.

'Wage rates for all women are being reviewed to ensure that they are fair and reflect the value of the work performed.

'Superannuation is being extended to the vast majority of women workers through the Superannuation Guarantee Levy.

'In addition, the Government has established the Equal Pay Unit in the Department of Industrial Relations to help implement its pay equity strategy through advice, research and community education.

'Details of the Unit's first publications which provide information on pay equity issues to workers and employers are attached.

'It is through pay equity initiatives such as these that we have ensured that the industrial relations system is fair', Senator Cook said.

'The Opposition's industrial relations policy does not protect workers in vulnerable positions, and is a recipe for increasing the gap between women's and men's wages and conditions. '

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For information contact:

Ministerial - Don Mackay 06 2777320 Departmental - Phil Drever 06 2437408



Equal Pay Policy Statement

The Government's equal pay policy statement formalises the Government's longstanding commitment to pay equity.

Equal Pay - A Background Paper

This paper provides earnings data and a brief history of equal pay. It also provides information on developments in the social wage and the role of the Equal Pay Unit.

A Guide to the Minimum Rates Adjustment Process

This paper will be useful for those involved in the wage­ fixing process. It provides information on how the minimum rates adjustment process can address the undervaluation of work and how to develop a MRA application.

Department of Industrial Relations Submission to the Human Rights and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's inquiry into possible sex discrimination in overaward -'payments

The submission outlines the significant difference between women's and men's overaward pay, and discusses the issues that HREOC will need to consider in applications relating to discrimination in overaward pay.

Equal Pay Newsletter

The newsletter, published on an occasional basis, provides the latest information on pay equity issues.