WOMEN WILL suffer greater disadvantage under the Prime Minister’s plans to change the Federal Workplace Relations Act, Victorian Attorney-General and Minister for Industrial Relations, Rob Hulls said last week.
Wages of the fairer sex already fail to keep pace with those of male counterparts, a report released last week suggests. The report, Advancing Pay Equity, by the Pay Equity Working Party, finds that women who work part-time are paid 18.4 per cent less than men, Hulls said.
But if the Howard Government removes the safeguards in place, the gap between men’s and women’s wages is set to grow, Hulls said. Nearly twice as many women relied on awards to determine their wages, and any further reduction in award conditions would have a disproportionate impact on them, he said.
While deregulation of the labour market has resulted in a growth in casual employment, the proposed attempt to decrease the 20 award allowable matters would be a blow for women, he said.
Hulls said he would raise his concerns with Federal Minister Kevin Andrews at the next Workplace Relations Ministerial Council in April. “While [Andrews] is set to further reduce the safeguards in the Federal legislation, Victoria will argue that the legislation as it stands is failing women,” he said.
“At a time when the Howard Government is complaining about a shortage of workers, it actively discriminates against women’s participation in the workforce by treating them as second class citizens.”