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Women and Work: Pleasure, Pain, Prospects ‘Our work, Our lives’ National Conference on Women and Industrial Relation PowerPoint Presentation
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Women and Work: Pleasure, Pain, Prospects ‘Our work, Our lives’ National Conference on Women and Industrial Relations 12-14 July 2006 Barbara Pocock Centre for Work and Life, University of South Australia. Pleasure, pain, prospects. The pleasures of work…. The pain Time Money

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Women and Work:

Pleasure, Pain, Prospects

‘Our work, Our lives’

National Conference on Women and Industrial Relations

12-14 July 2006

Barbara Pocock

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.
  • Working women prioritise care, especially developmental care (Lynn Craig’s research)
  • Women buy help…Which requires more work…
  • Domestic work - standards, time, inequity
  • ‘Pseudo-mutuality’ or ‘lagged adaption’?
  • Easy redistribution in the pipeline…?
the pain
The Pain?
  • Increasing hours for full-timers.
      • Average hours of full-timers increasing - by 3.1 hours 1982-2001
      • A quarter of Australians now work more than 45 hours a week.
  • 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.
long hours of work
Long hours of work
  • Hours of full-timers have increased significantly in Australia in recent decades - mostly before 1996: by around 3 hours a week
  • International research about health & long hours (Spurgeon, 2003)
    • Increases risk of mental health problems
    • Increases risk of cardiovascular disease
    • Adverse effects on family relationships
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
night work and family
Night work and family
  • Night work combined with parenting is most harmful for marital stability (Presser 2000; US study)
  • Night working parents have two to six times the risk of divorce compared to those working standard daytime hours
  • Transmission effects to children
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
  • 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
    • UK: in 1979 executives earned 10 times the pay of typical British workers. By 2002, 54 times
    • US: in 1980 executives earned 50 times and by 2002, 281 times
    • 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
  • Casual work is flexible
  • But less so for workers than employers in the minds of many casuals
  • Many find it hard to take time off, to refuse shifts, to control working time.
  • They talk of being ‘on call’ not ‘in control’
flexibility has many dimensions
Flexibility has many dimensions
  • Predictability of job tomorrow, next week,
  • Predictability of hours
  • Knowing hours in advance
  • Knowing finish time
  • Having minimum call in time
  • Controlling long hours and unpaid overtime
  • Some have say, many do not…
  • …even before ‘WorkChoices’
strong preference for permanence
Strong preference for permanence
  • Because workers want:
    • A predictable life
    • A reliable income and hours
    • Better chances at promotion and training
    • Paid holidays and sick leave
    • Chance to do the better tasks
    • Respect at work
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
a changing regulatory environment in australia
A changing regulatory environment in Australia
  • Implications for women?
  • AIRC President Giudice: ‘people with low skills, low bargaining power are headed for the five minimum conditions..which will have an effect on their incomes..This will be accompanied by a slowdown in the rate of growth of minimum wages - that’s what the Fair Pay Commission is for…I can assure you it’s going to affect our society’
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/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
  • (eg 24 hours written notice and reason, only once every 6 months for recruitment, no entry if covered by AWAs, individual worker who seeks help from union will be identified to boss, no chance to check non-members paid correctly, complex ballots for industrial action)
  • 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
impact on workers and families
Impact on workers and families?
  • Shift to AWAs, and stripped back awards will increase:
      • hours of work
      • unsocial working time
      • wage inequality
      • the working poor
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
awas less family friendly
AWAs: less family friendly
  • In 2001 only 12% of all AWAs had any work/family measures
  • 2004 DEWR report:
    • only 8% of AWAs had paid maternity leave (10% collective agreements)
    • 5% had paid paternity leave (7%)
    • 4% unpaid purchased leave
  • Those who need it most, get it least:
    • 14% more men than women on AWAs had any family leave in their AWA
  • 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
a family unfriendly unfair agenda
A family unfriendly, unfair agenda
  • With very negative consequences for women, the low paid, young and disadvantaged
  • Will create more pressures in many families
    • for children and other dependents
    • for relationships
  • Long lived social consequences for inequality and unfairness