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Women and Work: Pleasure, Pain, Prospects EASS Divisional research day, 12 th August Centre for Work and Life, University of South Australia. Pleasure, pain, prospects. The pleasures of work…. The pain Time Money Inequality Security Future prospects. Work: the pleasures.

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Women and Work:

Pleasure, Pain, Prospects

EASS Divisional research day, 12th August

Centre for Work and Life, University of South Australia

pleasure pain prospects
Pleasure, pain, prospects
  • The pleasures of work….
  • The pain
    • Time
    • Money
    • Inequality
    • Security
  • Future prospects
work the pleasures
Work: the pleasures
  • 60 per cent of Australians would work even if they didn’t need the money
  • Not just professionals
  • Over half of cleaners and labourers
  • Some women ‘love’ their work
    • Even when they didn’t expect to
  • Children see the positive spillover
  • They might love work, but they don’t always love its terms: safety, security, hours
the pleasures
The pleasures
  • Increasing appetite for work?
  • Women want to work
  • Young women expect to work
  • Few signs of the ‘new wife’ that US researchers speak of
  • With a decade at work before having children, social supports and friendships increasingly work-based
  • The suburban social desert?
but overload and guilt not uncommon
But overload and guilt not uncommon
  • In 1997 Australian women did twice as much housework as men (33 hours, compared to 17)
  • And very little change between 1992 and 1997 except that women did a bit less and bought more help.
the pain
The Pain?
  • Increasing hours for full-timers.
  • Traveling time is increasing.
  • The intensity of work is increasing.
  • Common family time is being squeezed or lost.
  • Most new jobs have been part-time: the work/family mechanism of choice in Australia.
  • But it has unique characteristics:
      • two-thirds is casual with restricted rights, tenure, respect, predictability of earnings and hours, retirement savings, and limited job security.
unsocial time and families
Unsocial time and families
  • 64% of Australian employees already work either sometimes or regularly outside standard times
  • ‘Consistent body of international evidence’ finds that unsocial work time affects social and family time (Strazdins et al, 2004)
  • Evening and night work is especially stressful for parents, increasing depression, affecting sleep and reducing parental responsiveness to children
  • Positive associations between shift work and marital discord and divorce
unsocial hours and care
Unsocial hours and care
  • All kinds of unsocial routines (weekend, afternoon, evening and night) can disrupt families and reduce parent-child time
  • Such parents spend less time reading, playing and helping children and are less satisfied with the time available with children
  • Many parents compensate by taking less time for themselves
new research effects on children
New research: effects on children
  • Analysis of Canadian data by Strazdins et al (2004) shows that children of parents who work non-standard hours are more likely to have emotional or behavioural difficulties
  • Independent of socio-economic status and childcare use
  • Other kinds of disadvantage can compound this effect
  • Widening dispersion in earnings
  • Average full-time gender pay gap steady
  • But much movement underneath the average
    • By type of instrument
    • By industry and occupation
    • And especially for part-timers
  • The legacy of undervaluation of feminised jobs…
  • The political economy of care and service sector work
  • The pay price for maternity - overshadows the hourly gender pay gap?
  • Widening inequality between the top and the bottom of the labour market
    • Australia, 1989-90 executives earned 18 times of average workers, and by 2005, 63 times.
  • The social costs of inequality are not visited only on the bottom…
  • A rising plane of prosperity built upon a growing body of low paid feminised services sector work…?
consider rosa and mr moss
Consider Rosa and Mr Moss
  • Mr Moss, head of Macquarie Bank is being paid $21.2 million for this years work
  • Rosa is a room attendant in a luxury Sydney hotel and a sole parent with 5 children, renting
  • She works 2 days a week for $14 an hour as a room attendant and another 16 hours a week in a shop for $10/hour. Her annual wage is $20,000 and she gets another $10,000 from government. A 90 minute daily commute.
  • Taxpayer subsidy of low paying employers
  • Over a quarter of employees now formally casual
  • Disproportionately women
  • Variable levels of actual insecurity
  • The price of being part-time
  • But loss of key conditions like paid holidays and sick leave
  • Implications for retirement incomes and economic security over the life cycle
prospects workchoices a weaker safety net
Prospects?WorkChoices: a weaker safety net

minimum pay rate

4 weeks annual leave - with option to sell half

10 days personal/carer’s leave

12 months unpaid parental leave

38 ordinary hours, annual average

Australian Workplace Agreements override agreements and awards - without a ‘no disadvantage’ test

the measures tilts bargaining
The measures: Tilts bargaining
  • ‘Fair pay Commission’
  • weak unfair dismissal protections
  • More anti-collective than US law
  • Australian Industrial Relations Commission neutered
airc and work family
AIRC and work/family
  • Maternity leave (1979)
  • Adoption leave (1984)
  • Parental leave (1990)
  • Carers’ leave (1994/95)
  • Right to refuse unreasonable overtime (2001)
  • Right to request part-time employment (2005)

All opposed by coalition and employers

How will any new advances be made?

improvements for women
Improvements for women?
  • Loss of key conditions like ‘right to request’
  • Pay inequity in an environment of greater decentralisation
  • Pay equity cases?
  • Pay/time trades difficult to trace and analyse
overall impact
Overall Impact…
  • Low paid workers will be lower paid?
    • $44 lower if government had had its way since 1996 AWAs on ‘take it or leave it’ basis for new employees or on promotion etc
  • Collective agreements and awards irrelevant over time
  • Union access to workers more limited and difficult
  • Widening wages dispersion
  • Same workers, different rates
  • Tougher for the weaker
      • young people
      • people returning to work
      • casuals
      • working carers
      • Immigrants
      • women
  • Even good bosses are forced to compete on cut price wages and conditions
the evidence awas and pay pre workchoices
The evidence: AWAs and pay pre-Workchoices
  • Pay levels and pay rises are lower for private sector workers on AWAs (Peetz 2005)
  • Even though workers on AWAs, work longer hours
  • And have less access to penalty rates for unsocial hours and overtime
  • AWAs much more likely to reduce or abolish pay for working overtime, nights or weekends
awas and pay
AWAs and pay
  • women on AWAs paid 11% less than women on collective agreements in May 2004
  • Casuals on AWAs lower by 15%,
  • Permanent part-timers by 25%.
  • These are all groups with disproportionate responsibilities for families
  • Whatever else it might do…
  • Is already lowering standards
    • 16% of survey of 250/6263 individual contracts since March 2006 removed penalty rates, overtime rates, holiday loading, shift loadings
    • Two-thirds lost leave loadings, penalty rates and over half shift loadings
    • Important implications for low paid workers who depend on these payments to make a living wage
future research
Future research?
  • Treasurer aspires to be a woman-friendly government
  • A key element: fair pay and family friendly conditions
  • Pressing need for national research
    • Robust, peer reviewed
    • Appropriately sophisticated
    • Multiple projects at more than one level