Thread: Equal Pay Board: Purgatory / Ship of Fools.

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Posted by Ian Climacus (# 944) on :
Carrie Gracie quits, citing pay inequality with male colleagues.

Well done to the BBC, I suppose, for publishing it. No marks for equality though.

I'm stupid enough to believe this was out, or at least on its way out. Clearly not.

The other issue, which often gets shut down by precious men in my experience elsewhere, is women's overall pay and superannuation, particularly when time off for babies or caring for relatives is factored in. This seems trickier to me. What can we do to make sure women retire with the same superannuation as men? Or should we in fact be aiming for this?
Posted by simontoad (# 18096) on :
You'd think that the public sector would be further along the road than the private sector. That's been the the traditional approach to labor market reform in this country, driven by the CPSU of course and its state counterparts (although I think there were amalgamations there). The CPSU and its allies (Commonwealth Public Sector Union for the foreigners) did an excellent job in the late 20th century in getting up family friendly policies that were gender neutral but aimed to assist women in the workplace. I haven't looked at this for some time, but I believe one problem was getting men to use the family leave they had.

While flow-through negotiation of conditions is still done, its harder. Apart from anything else, its more difficult to get an arbitrated outcome because of the steady undermining of our industrial system under Keating and Howard. Workchoices was a bitch, make no mistake.

I would love the Government to control wages directly, forcing employers to pay a set amount to each wage earner under a complex classification system regardless of gender or any other protected characteristic. However, I think I would only love it for about 15 minutes before deciding that the schadenfreude wasn't worth sacrificing that much freedom.

We have to change things gradually and by consent or everything goes to shit. As I understand it, and I might be wrong, a big reason for the gender pay gap in this country is that the jobs women traditionally did are much lower paid than the jobs men traditionally did. Think primary school teacher versus tradie. Also, as you've pointed out, women are the ones who take career breaks to look after children.

The first of these issues is being addressed. There was a massive case a few years ago, the Equal Pay Case I think it was called, in which the Workplace Relations Commission, or whatever hell-spawned name it is now called, awarded a large pay increase for people in the community sector (and maybe others), implemented over a period of maybe 5 years (details hazy).

I think there is change concerning the division of domestic labor in Australia, and we have a history of fostering positive social change in this country. The change in gender roles can be accelerated in a similar way that we have changed our driving and smoking behaviors. However, as has been shown in the USA, social change can lead to a backlash. We need to be careful here. Also, our population growth largely comes from immigration, often from cultures which are as patriarchal as we were in the early 20th century. We are experiencing problems with immigrant groups concerning both appropriate disciplining of children and domestic violence. Again, education, patience, having the laws right and enforcing them with wisdom is the key.

As for people at the top of the heap (and remember that from where I am sitting all I can see is a big bunch of arses) I think the blokes need to be paid on the same level as the women, rather than the other way around. In fact, at GBP150,000 per annum, I think all senior editors at the BBC should be getting a substantial pay cut. $300,000 should be about what the head of NASA gets.

The real issue with women and superannuation is happening right now, as women in their 60's are retiring into poverty. They have the triple whammy of not having the system in for part of their working lives, substantial breaks in their employment for family responsibilities and an aged pension that has been reducing in real value in part because of the introduction of the superannuation system. Some of these women are in real crisis situations, facing homelessness or living hand-to-mouth.

Frankly, and bearing in mind the plight of the vast majority of women, I am not particularly concerned with financial equity issues for very wealthy people of any gender. I don't believe in trickle-down rights.
Posted by Cod (# 2643) on :
Originally posted by simontoad:
Also, as you've pointed out, women are the ones who take career breaks to look after children.

I suspect this is what it's really about. All the rest is overthinking and no amount of statistical and legislative somersaults will overcome it.
Posted by Dave W. (# 8765) on :
Originally posted by simontoad:
$300,000 should be about what the head of NASA gets.

That would be a big pay hike - the salary for the Administrator of NASA was $187,000 in 2016 (Executive Schedule Level II).
Posted by Gee D (# 13815) on :
US salaries in the public sector are incredibly low. A Supreme Court Justice gets just under $250,000 pa, and the Chief Justice just a bit over . Even the US President receives little over $600,000. My recollection is that there is no pension for judges (nor any retirement age either). By contrast a High Court Justice here receives$530,000 and the Chief Justice nearly $585,000. Our Prime Minister gets a bit over $500,000. Then there is a good pension scheme coupled with a compulsory retirement age for federal judges of 70.

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