MEDIA RELEASE: What next in fight for equal pay?

Gender pay inequality, which should have been resolved in the 20th Century, is alive and still going strong in Australia halfway through the second decade of the 21st Century. Why fixing the pay imbalance has stalled and how to fix it will be the subject of a national conference in Sydney today.

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Academics, feminists, unionists, pay equity champions, employers and workers will gather at the Big Steps Towards Equal Pay Conference to shed light on and find solutions to one of the most important barriers to equality for women.

Early childhood educators’ equal pay case in the Fair Work Commission will be a focus of the conference, which is organised by United Voice, the early childhood union.

With pay rates as low as $20 per hour, the overwhelmingly female workforce – 97% are women – with pay rates as low as $20 per hour are some of the lowest paid professionals in Australia.

Conference speakers include:

Marian Baird AO, Professor and Chair of Discipline, Work and Organisational Studies, Sydney University

Libby Lyons, Director, Workplace Gender Equality Agency

Sally McManus, Vice President, ACTU

Eva Cox, Professorial Fellow/Author, Jumbunna University of Technology Sydney

Helen Gibbons, Assistant National Secretary of United Voice says “In Australia one need look no further than the low pay of women in the early childhood sector to know that gender inequality is still a major problem 44 years since the 1972 equal pay case.

“Educators’ equal pay case in the Fair Work Commission is the next important development in the decades-long fight for equal pay in Australia.

“This case is necessary because fixing the gender pay imbalance has not been a national priority and educators are paying the price. Their pay doesn’t come close to matching the highly skilled and professional nature of their work.

“This was confirmed in September when a national poll found that most Australians believe educators are underpaid and
that the Federal Government is not doing enough to ensure women earn the same amount as men doing comparable
work,” says Helen Gibbons.