The Independent Education Union of Australia (IEUA) expresses its serious concerns with the federal government’s draft Religious Discrimination Bill.
The IEUA is disappointed at the continuing
practice of governments to polarize, disenfranchise and make a ‘whipping post’ of
the rights of our members who work in faith-based education.
Yet again proposed legislation completely
exempts religious schools from allowing their employees the same rights that
all other Australians enjoy. Here it is not the freedom to love and marry who
they wish but the freedom of religion and belief itself.
Religious schools don’t need this Bill.
The IEUA believes that the vast majority of
employers in faith- based schools have no difficulty in employing staff of
other faiths and in fact are not threatened by their staff or students
expressing diverse views.
The IEUA has and will continue to lobby
governments and politicians to remove the unreasonable and harmful exemptions
from discrimination law enjoyed by employers in our industry.
As the IEUA has made abundantly clear in
our recent submissions and appearances before Senate inquiries, we believe that
these exemptions are not required by employers.
Current contractual law obligations and legislation more than adequately
provide for employers to manage their workforces consistent with their beliefs.
The IEUA will call upon the Parliament of
Australia to reject this current Bill as it not only fails to improve the
current undermining of rights of our members but is an untidy and problematic
drafting of legislation that will cause further confusion.
The IEUA will continue to carefully examine
the Bill, seek expert advice and engage with stakeholders to ensure that IEUA
members’ interests are paramount.
The overriding outcomes from the WA Labor State Conference were incredibly positive. Decisions made and policies announced by the WA State government will make significant differences to working people in our State.
May Holman honoured
The McGowan government will be renaming 189 Royal Street, East Perth, the May Holman Building in honour of this trailblazing politician.
May Holman was the first woman from the Labor Party to be elected to an Australian Parliament, and is widely credited with introducing some of the first pieces of worker health and safety legislation anywhere in the world.
She won the State seat of Forrest, centred on Dwellingup, five times and served 14 years in State Parliament.
May’s life was tragically cut short as a result of a car crash the day before the 1939 State election. She survived only until the following Monday, May was informed that she had been re-elected – two hours later she passed away.
May Holman was deeply committed to improving society – she advocated for workers and their families alike. In 1926 she introduced the Timber Industry Act, which legislated to improve the living and working conditions of men employed at timber mills across Western Australia.
A former government-owned building that bore May’s name was renamed Golden Square in 2015 when purchased by a private company.
$12.9 million investment in workplace health and safety
Industrial Manslaughter Laws: In recent times, there have been disturbing reports about workplace deaths and the relatively light fines imposed on companies as a result of these accidents.To strengthen Western Australia’s workplace safety laws, the McGowan Government will introduce a new Work Health and Safety Bill that will modernise workplace safety laws, better protect workers and hold accountable those responsible for any workplace deaths.
One of the main features of the legislation is the introduction of two new offences of industrial manslaughter:
Industrial manslaughter class one: the most serious offence, this includes a maximum penalty of 20 years’ imprisonment for an individual conducting or undertaking a business.
Industrial manslaughter class two: this includes a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment for negligent behaviour.
The new offences will also carry a fine of up to $10 million for a body corporate.
Worksafe: An additional 24 full time equivalent staff, including 21 additional inspectors, will be employed by WorkSafe. This will bring the total number of inspectors to 120 and provide much improved capacity for safety inspections, the enforcement of workplace safety standards and more education and awareness.
These inspectors will investigate fatal and serious incidents,. There will also be inspectors with expertise in industrial and regional cases and service industries.
There will be new worker safety campaign called Better Worker Safety to put safety at front of mind and improve workplace safety and health outcomes in Western Australia.
Return of privatised services to public hands benefits customers and saves taxpayers money
The McGowan Labor Government will bring operations and maintenance of the Water Corporation’s water, wastewater and drainage networks in the Perth and Mandurah region back in-house. This is 25 years after services were privatised by the then Liberal Government.
A recent review by the Water Corporation Board determined that in-sourcing would be the best model for the future. This is consistent with the way the services are delivered by the Water Corporation in all other parts of the State.
The new approach is expected to deliver estimated savings for taxpayers of $2-3 million per year, provide 250 workers with more secure employment and deliver a more streamlined customer interaction.
Gender Pay Day is an important reminder of the continuing barriers women face in accessing the same opportunities and benefits as men in Australian workplaces.
WA is the “winner” of this dubious honour – again
Western Australia has the highest gender pay gap of any state or territory in Australia at 21.8%. The national average is 14%. One positive in this year’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency’s (WGEA) report regarding the gap in WA, is that it dropped by a 0.8% from the same time in 2018. This is hardly cause for huge celebration.
In WA, many cite the gender pay gap exists because, being a resources sector state, a disproportionate number of high paying jobs are often filled by men. But as the WGEA report states, it is only partially explained by that:
The differences in the gender pay gap can be partly explained by industry profiles of each state and territory. For example, the full-time workforce in Western Australia is concentrated in Mining and Construction sectors, industries with relatively high earnings and low representation of women.
Many academics, feminists and economists have debated rigorously over the reasons why the gap exists in the first place and many have come to the conclusion that it is plain discrimination, in many cases.
National Gender Pay Gap. Complacency Remains
The fact that the national Gender Pay Gap has hovered between 15% and 19% for the past two decades is sad indictment on what our Governments and Employers consider as priorities.
What Does It All Mean?
The Gender Pay Gap is a symbol of women’s position in the workforce in comparison to men.
It is the difference between the average earnings of women and men in the entire Australian workforce and is the result of different social and economic factors that have a tremendous impact on how women and men live their lives.
It reflects the fact that women’s work is traditionally undervalued, and women are often paid less than men. In fact, average full-time salaries are lower for women than men in every occupation and industry in Australia. As well, women are under-represented in senior executive and management roles and female dominated occupations and industries attract lower pay than male dominated ones.
Research[i] shows that the main factors contributing to the gender pay gap are;
Discrimination and bias in hiring and pay decisions.
Women and men working in different industries and different jobs, with female dominated industries and jobs attracting lower wages.
Women’s disproportionate share of unpaid caring and domestic work.
Lack of workplace flexibility to accommodate caring and other responsibilities, especially in leadership roles.
Women’s greater time out of the workplace impacting career progression and opportunities.
It Is Time For Change
Women currently make up 49% of Australian workplaces and more than 70% of education employees, and yet, there are still far too many challenges confronting women in the workplace.
These challenges exist because workplace rules are broken and the Federal Government has failed to address the issues.
The Federal Government has failed to:
To implement a living wage, failed to support people with caring responsibilities;
To address the inequality of superannuation payments;
To rectify the inadequacies of the Fair Work Act.
Because of the Federal Government’s failure to act, women are adversely affected.
Women are increasingly locked out of a secure retirement; women make up the majority of workers reliant on a minimum wage; women are more vulnerable to exploitative, casualised and insecure forms of work and due to deep rooted social norms, women face more disruptions over their working life by taking on the majority of the caring responsibilities for children, family members and/or aging parents.
On Gender Pay Day, IEU members call upon the Federal Government to stop short changing women and start addressing gender inequality by:
Setting Targets and Timeframes to Accelerate Change. Setting targets for action has the potential to close the gender pay gap within a significantly shortened timeframe and will strengthen the impact and implementation of policies.
Implement measures which increase pay transparency. The Fair Work Act must to be amended to ensure greater effectiveness of Equal Remuneration Orders. Alternative mechanisms need to be developed to address the undervaluing of women’s work. Pay secrecy clauses in employee contracts must be banned and any adverse action to employees who openly discuss wages or salaries prevented. Greater resources and support must be provided to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency and its work.
Provide greater support for working parents and carers Parents and carers’ need the right to temporary part time work. Legislation for 26 weeks paid parental leave is overdue and superannuation must be paid on the Commonwealth Paid Parent Leave Scheme.
Remove structural inequalities in the superannuation system Ensure that superannuation is paid on all leave accruals and on the unpaid component of parental leave. Implement further increases in the Superannuation Guarantee rate. Remove the exemption for superannuation payments for employees earning less than $450 per month. Set a superannuation objective that supports the continuation of a strong three pillar retirement income system and includes specific reference to women’s incomes. Amend the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 to ensure companies are permitted to make higher superannuation payments for their female employees.
On Gender Pay Day, IEU members stand up and say: It is time for change!