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Not-so-Super withdrawals to leave women worse off post-pandemic

For comparison purposes, August 28 marked the date which commemorates Equal Pay Day, where a total of 59 more days would constitute how many more days from the start of the current financial year that women would have to work in order to find their pay being on an equal footing with that of their male colleagues and counterparts.

A statistical reflection of the disparity of pay between women and men, as pointed out by the Equal Pay Day Alliance (EPDA) and citing data calculated annually by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) and quoting a series of data presented by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), presents some very sobering facts for the 2020 edition of Equal Pay Day:

  • The national gender pay gap is 14%.
  • On average, women working full-time earned $1,558.40 while men working full-time earned $1,812.00.
  • Full-time average weekly earnings difference between women and men is $253.60.

And just some of the institutionalised factors, those dictated by the reality of our society and otherwise, do make suggestions which bring it all into focus:

  • discrimination and bias in hiring and pay decisions
  • women and men working in different industries and different jobs, with female-dominated industries attracting lower wages
  • women’s disproportionate share of unpaid caring and domestic work
  • lack of workforce flexibility to accommodate caring and other responsibilities, especially in senior roles
  • and women’s greater time out of the workforce impacting career progression and opportunities.

The state of the COVID-19 pandemic is only making the gulf of disparity even worse at present. At least parity has reigned in Australia’s unemployment rate up to the month of July sitting at 7.5 per cent, as both men and women have incurred unemployment at that very exact rate for each gender. And as such, the actual number of women being unemployed exists at its highest rate in the nation’s history – and it has even doubled since last December.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) has also championed the day not just to talk up the disparities of the present, but how damaging the future for women in the workforce may potentially become.

The ACTU’s concerns naturally address any of the above statistics and trends, but also go on to attack insecure work in the way of casualisation, lack of paid pandemic leave, how women in traditionally female-dominated areas such as healthcare and early childhood education are underpaid by the nature of their awards, and the rates of participation of the Morrison government’s early superannuation withdrawal scheme.

“The refusal of the Morrison Government to address insecure work which disproportionately effects women has left a third of the workforce without sick leave during a pandemic and means that women who are returning to work are returning to jobs which are lower paid and more insecure,” Michele O’Neil, the ACTU’s president, said on Friday.

“[And] the overwhelmingly female workforces in aged care and early childhood education and care are systemically underpaid and deal with extreme levels of insecure work. Women in the community sector are facing funding shortfalls which will undermine equal pay,” O’Neil added.

But the vicious cycle, according to O’Neil and the ACTU, does not end there.

Insofar as the withdrawal of superannuation has happened, over 1.3 million women have accessed their funds early in order to pay bills and – in the case of unemployed and under-employed women – fill the gaps in the commitments of their daily lives.

While this trend has occurred at a higher rate than that of men – and some would contend at a ratio close to two-to-one – in addition to those who have taken advantage of both available windows to withdraw totals of $20,000, more than 300,000 women have completely emptied their superannuation accounts.

And of that, 80 per cent of those, said O’Neil, are 35 years old or younger.

And in that demographic of being female and under 35, she added, members of that group may very well be $95,000 worse off in retirement once fees are taken into account.

“It is essential that the recovery from this crisis address the long-standing issues which have reduced the pay and retirement income of women,” said O’Neil.

O’Neil also implores the Morrison government to examine the ACTU’s National Economic Reconstruction Plan (NERP) as a foundation not just to stimulate the economy in the way of general post-pandemic recovery, but also provide a backdrop towards addressing the disparities women face in employment and wage equality issues.

“Addressing equal pay requires investment in secure jobs, and improving women’s legal rights to win equal pay,” said O’Neil.

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5 comments

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  1. ajogrady

    Under their masterful and expert dereliction of duty and their corrupt guiding influences the L/NP, with their usual ability to disregard any practical use of due diligence or forward planning, has Australia destined to become a major economic backwater and an internationally recognised pariah state.

  2. New England Cocky

    Women may earn less than men but in professions where women are over half the work-force, the equal pay salary of both genders is suppressed, as found in both teaching and nursing.

    About 1988 teaching became a female dominated profession as many talented women chose a career over housework drudgery. The NSW Department of Education responded by creating the Senior Executive Service for privileged male desk jockeys and perpetuated the long held myth that “”women teachers were only earning pin money to supplement the family income from their husbands”.

    This was deliberately untrue, but a strategy to allow politicians to suppress wage growth for teachers ever since. So the ”present” huge demand for ”inspiring teachers” is a consequence of this too long standing wage suppression policy. Naturally, talented students chose careers in other industries earning more than a starvation wage under Dickensian working conditions in dilapidated, rarely maintained premises.

    But there is hope ….. send you off-spring to a government subsidised private school for a third rate child minding experience and your good mates the Liarbral Nazional$ will pay for institutional facilities so that you will respond by again voting for their free use of government largess to network forming institutions.

    The corrupting policies of government largess for corporations is not doing Australian voters any favours. Indeed, a continuation of these policies will make Australia the worst third world export economy in the OECD.

  3. Matters Not

    Is teaching a profession? Can be argued that it’s not and on several grounds. First, teachers don’t determine their fees like most professionals such as Doctors, Dentists, Lawyers etc do. Second, teachers (in the main) aren’t self-employed but rather in the direct employ of the other usually an institutional bureaucracy. Third, teachers don’t determine what is taught (the curriculum) and increasingly how it’s taught which is dictated more and more from above by unqualified politicians. Fourth, teachers don’t control their registration institution or their de-registration process Fifth, ..

    Indeed, might be argued that kangaroo-shooters are more of a profession than teachers. Then there’s the oldest profession who determine fees, practices, services offered, ..

  4. Matters Not

    Re:

    NSW Department of Education responded by creating the Senior Executive Service for privileged male desk jockeys

    Are you sure? Would have thought that Senior Executive Service (SES) classifications, positions etc would be service wide and not within the creative power(s) of the NSW Department of Education. Very unusual and probably unworkable.

    As for:

    “”women teachers were only earning pin money to supplement the family income from their husbands”.

    Certainly a view that was alive and well in those times supported by the numerical fact(s) that when strike action was on the agenda, married women tended to vote against same and then were reluctant to take industrial action even after clear majority votes. As to other possible reasons for this reluctance, one might consider ‘fear‘ – given it was quite common for married women to have their services terminated before each and every Christmas holidays with re-employment in the new year not guaranteed.

    Another force in play was the deep ideological belief that motivated the occupation. Teachers, historically, (and whether they realised it or not) were on a type of rescue mission (from ignorance and radicalism) so it was important (for some female teachers at least) that they not be associated with the working class from which the majority had sprung. That they were in a Union at all was sometimes problematic.

    Speak to any female teacher Union leader and they will tell you that feminized workforce(s) have particular problems.

  5. Brozza

    I already knew that the population majority was very naive in voting back in the lying nazi party, but to be forced to steal from their own retirements, is a new low in bastardry, even from a mob as low as those voted back in.
    But no sympathy from me.
    The majority deserve all they get for re-electing scummo & co.

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