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Union for workers in female-dominated roles pledges to act over unacceptably high gender earnings gap

27 February 2024 By ASU

The union representing workers in the top three female-dominated sectors has flagged its intention to use new industrial relations legislation to drive down the gender pay gap in lagging industries, after fresh data revealed the salary discrepancy persists.

Australian Services Union Assistant National Secretary Emeline Gaske said not enough progress was being made to narrow the “unacceptably high earnings gap” in many workplaces, as evidenced by the publication of new gender-based salary figures of almost 5000 private sector employers for the first time.

Some of the biggest pay gaps are evident in industries dominated by women, such as clerical and administrative support services and community and social assistance, as well as the nation’s airline industry, according to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency figures.

The ASU, which has approximately 130,000 members, represents workers in all these groups.

“Thanks to these new transparency measures, we can now see for the first time exactly what is going on inside some of Australia’s largest private employers and sadly, the picture is not pretty,” Ms Gaske said.

“Regrettably, it is companies that rely heavily on female labour – community and disability services, airlines, customer service – that are among the worst offenders.

“There’s an unacceptably high earnings gap in many organisations, which typically happens when we undervalue the female workforce and fail to recognise the skills that are necessary to perform these jobs.”

Ms Gaske said she was hopeful that added transparency would not only highlight the issue but force companies to act to address the persistent pay gap.

“No one enjoys being named and shamed, but transparency alone isn’t enough,” she said.

“The ASU is a union that has long championed gender equality at work and that is why we will be focussing on the employers of our members with the largest gaps and asking hard questions about what proactive measures they are taking to improve this.

“Workers should also look up their own company’s pay gap, and, if not already a union member, get on board as we campaign on an important issue that will benefit both workers as well as business and national productivity.

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