Women will be hurt by industry awards, says protest group

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Women will be hurt by industry awards, says protest group

Two unions and a group of women’s lobbying organisations are claiming that the downgrading of occupational awards as part of award modernisation will devalue the careers of women and make the attainment of equal pay much harder.

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Two unions and a group of women’s lobbying organisations are claiming that the downgrading of occupational awards as part of award modernisation will devalue the careers of women and make the attainment of equal pay much harder.

Among their claims is that women identify more with their occupation than they do with the industry in which they work.

Open letter

The Australian Services Union (ASU), the Australian Nursing Federation (ANF) and a number of other groups, have today (Thursday) published an open letter to the Federal Government aimed at ensuring ensure women's gains in the workforce are not lost.

‘Downsizing women’s awards, by removing occupational awards and placing them within the industrial awards framework, will remove the hard earned recognition that women have gained over the past 100 years,’ said Linda White, assistant national secretary of the ASU.

It will affect all women who work, particularly women in clerical and administrative, nursing and childcare work.'

Protect women’s advances

We call on the Federal Government to protect the advances women have made in the workforce over the last 30 years and to ensure we do not go backwards.

Ged Kearney, federal secretary of the ANF, said theso-called award modernisation process would make attempts for women to gain pay parity even more difficult.

It is misleading to suggest that the removal of occupational awards is modern”,’ she said. ‘In fact, the large array of organisations which have signed onto the campaign assert that this will take women back generations in their struggle to earn equal amounts to men, and to enjoy the same conditions.'

Devalue careers

Getting rid of occupational awards will devalue their careers and leave them isolated, covered only by industry awards that will be mostly concerned with completely unrelated work.'

Women often do not identify with the industry they work in, they almost always identify with their occupation. These changes will not only affect their pay, conditions and standing in the workforce, but it will also affect their perception of themselves in the workplace.

‘Back to the dark days’

White said women will be going back to the dark days before the 1970s when their role at work was not sufficiently valued’ if they are moved onto industry awards.

Both women called on the Federal Government and the AIRC to ensure women’s gains in the workforce were not lost.

We call on the Federal Government and the AIRC to protect the advances women have made in the workforce over the last 30 years, and to ensure we do not go backwards,’

Those groups that signed the open letter are:

  • ASU (Australian Services Union)

  • ANF (Australian Nursing Federation)

  • CWA (Country Women’s Association)

  • NUS Women’s Department (National Union of Students)

  • WEL (Women’s Electoral Lobby)

  • WAVE (Women in Adult and Vocational Education)

  • Emily’s List (a group devoted to seeing more progressive women elected in Parliament)

  • Queensland Working Women's Service

  • Working Women's Centre of South Australia


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