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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.

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Presentation on theme: "Women and Work: Pleasure, Pain, Prospects ‘Our work, Our lives’ National Conference on Women and Industrial Relations 12-14 July 2006 Barbara Pocock Centre."— Presentation transcript:

1 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

2 Pleasure, pain, prospects The pleasures of work…. The pain –Time –Money –Inequality –Security Future prospects

3 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

4 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?

5 Participation

6 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…?

7 How to draw men into housework?

8 The Pain? nIncreasing 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. nTraveling time is increasing. nThe intensity of work is increasing. nCommon family time is being squeezed or lost. nMost new jobs have been part-time: the work/family mechanism of choice in Australia. nBut it has unique characteristics: ntwo-thirds is casual with restricted rights, tenure, respect, predictability of earnings and hours, retirement savings, and limited job security.

9 Time: A critical issue for women

10 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

11 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

12 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

13 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

14 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

15 Money 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?

16 Inequality 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…?

17 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

18 The essential work of care and cleaning

19 Security 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

20 Flexibility? 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’

21 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’

22 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

23 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

24 The measures: Tilts bargaining ‘Fair pay Commission’ weak unfair dismissal protections More anti-collective than US law Australian Industrial Relations Commission neutered

25 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’

26 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?

27 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

28 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)

29 Impact… 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

30 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

31 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

32 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

33 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

34 ‘WorkChoices’ 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

35 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

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