IEUA Statement – Religious Discrimination Bill 2019

5th September 2019

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.

Chris Watt

Federal Secretary

Indigenous Literacy Day 2019

Wednesday 4th September was Indigenous Literacy Day, a national celebration of Indigenous culture, stories, language and literacy organised by the Indigenious Literacy Foundation.

Though the day has passed, you can still support the

For more information, visit the Indigenous Literacy Foundation website.

Summary of positive outcomes from the WA State Labor Conference

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.

IEU Speaks: No Progress on Gender Pay Gap

Wednesday 28 August 2019 is Gender Pay Day.

This date illustrates the 59 additional days from the end of the previous financial year that women must work in order to earn the same amount as men earn in twelve months.

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, the gap also contributes to financial stress surrounding housing insecurity with women over 55 becoming the fastest growing demographic among the homeless. About 48 per cent of women in WA worry about money either daily or weekly, compared with 40 per cent of men with the percentage even higher if you are in the regions, according to a survey conducted by The West and WA Super.

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:

  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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!

[i] Workplace Gender Equality Agency.

Congratulations to the QIEU! 100 Years Union Strong!

To commemorate the Queensland Independent Education Union’s 100th anniversary, the IEU Queensland and Northern Territory Branch has produced a Centenary Special Edition of their publication Independent Voice.

Congratulations to our comrades in Queensland on this wonderful achievement! 100 more years!

Download this special edition of Independent Voice here