Multi-employer bargaining would reduce the gender pay gap for working women, according to an ACTU report.
As expected, the research supports planned legislative changes to the industrial relations regime that the federal government is trying to push through before the end of the year.
“Multi-employer bargaining, and in particular single and sustained interest streams, is key to closing the gender pay gap,” ACTU President Michele O’Neil said Thursday.
“Giving more women – both in sectors with larger pay gaps and in sectors with more women – access to bargaining benefits those workers, but also the economy.”
Employers’ groups oppose multi-employer bargaining, arguing that it would hurt small businesses, create dislocation and lead to industrial relations disputes.
ACTU’s 12-page report – “Closing the Gender Pay Gap Through Multi-Employer Bargaining” – finds that collectively-agreed women earn an average of $102.60 more per week than non-collectively-agreed women. covered by collective agreements.
“Gender equity is an issue that can be negotiated and included in collective agreements,” he adds.
The research notes that progress in closing the gender pay gap has leveled off and even regressed in some sectors.
The gender pay gap is 14.1% of full-time earnings between women and men, or about $263.90 a week.
“However, the gender pay gap across all employees and comparing all of their earnings is much larger, at 29.7% or $471 a week,” he said.
The report says there is “overwhelming” evidence of how multi-employer bargaining can move wages and deliver pay equity for women.
“ACTU urges the Australian Parliament to quickly pass the Secure Jobs Better Pay Bill in its entirety,” it concluded.
On Wednesday, the government was cautiously considering a change to the definition of a small business in its bill for passage through the Senate.
Workplace Relations Minister Tony Burke has warned that increasing the definition of a small business from 15 to 20 workers – as recommended by an inquiry report into the bill – would be a significant change .
If the government accepts this recommendation (from 15 to 20 workers), it means that 97.5% of companies are excluded from this flow – 2.5 million companies would be excluded from this flow,” he told the Parliament.
Independent senators David Pocock and Jacqui Lambie, along with 12 Green senators, are key to passing the bill in the final parliamentary session of the year.
Senator Pocock said he supported 85-90% of the bill, but wanted time to consider the impact of more complex aspects such as multi-employer bargaining.
The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry says the government has grossly underestimated the direct cost to business of multi-company bargaining.
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