JAN LOGIE: Getting women paid more

This week I have had an emotional rollercoaster to do what I can to see women paid more in this country. Firstly, we had a positive announcement that 55,000 women like Kristine Bartlett in the aged-care, home support and disability service sector will finally get a very large pay rise. Then on Thursday the Government announced that they were revamping the Equal Pay Act which has been responsible for women securing the pay rise. Filthy tactics by this Government!

The draft Equal Pay Act that has been released this week will scrap the right to look outside of the affected industry for a comparable job. This is what Kristine Bartlett’s case had secured, and what led to the large pay raise. This means it will be harder for women to make a case for the gendered underpayment of work. The bill would deny other women the same access to justice as Kristine Bartlett - that’s a profound breach of trust. It looks like Government is hoping to slip this through under the cover of the pay offer for caregivers.

We need to be progressing equal pay, not putting more barriers in the way of women seeking to be paid fairly. We need a Government that is committed to doing the right thing, and rectifying the imbalances that see women being paid so much less than men. Unions have done a fantastic job of securing a huge win this week, but we need to back them up in the next stage of the negotiations to ensure that all women workers can get a fair deal in the future too.

I have a member’s bill coming up for a vote on 10 May that would mean greater pay transparency to ensure that women will be able to find out if they are being underpaid. I hope that all MPs will be able to support my bill to see women paid more fairly. With the current draft of the Equal Pay Act, there is definite space for legislative improvements to see better pay for women.

The Government knows that there is huge political appetite to close the gender pay imbalance, and they did the right thing at the start of the week. But that doesn’t mean that we can now let them off the hook. It is still possible to make this a win for all those women in unions who have been campaigning for equal pay in this country since the 1800s. It is 2017, and it is well past time for women to be paid what they’re worth.