Gender Pay Gap

I move:

That this House:

(1)Recognises women still earn 14 per cent less than their male counterparts and pay equity is a gendered issue.

(2)Acknowledges 89 percent of nurses are female and the Government's wage freeze will disproportionately hurt women.


(3)Congratulates nurses and midwives who are the front line of the New South Wales COVID-19 pandemic response and acknowledges that a wage freeze is no way to thank them.

(4)Condemns the Government for its wage freeze that disproportionately impacts women, nurses, teachers, child protection and other frontline public sector workers

Every way you look at it, every way you cut it, women lose, especially during the COVID pandemic: women in unpaid labour, women at work, women in education, women who earn less superannuation, women as carers, women with disabilities and women in disadvantaged communities. Women take up the frontline caring roles, as is very evident now, especially the nurses and midwifes and the teachers, who are putting together online resources so students can continue learning at home. Those workers are on the front line caring for us and propping up the education system. They step into that space, again where predominantly women are impacted. They work in the domestic violence and child protection sectors and with vulnerable people who require our support. Many of our frontline public sector workers feel abandoned by the Government. They are very surprised that rather than receiving a wage increase in line with the consumer price index they got a wage freeze, which is effectively a wage cut.

Gender pay equity is spoken of by many. There is a lot of good work in this space, particularly by Emma Dawson from Per Capita and Professor Rae Cooper. I encourage people to look at some of their work. The gender pay gap measures the difference between the average earnings of women and men in the workforce. It is not a case of two people being paid differently for work of the same or comparable value, which is actually unlawful. That is the matter of equal pay. The gender pay gap is an internationally established measure of women's position in the economy in comparison to that of men. It is the result of the social and economic factors that combine to reduce women's earning capacity, which happens over their lifetime from the time that they are young. Many factors influence the gender pay gap, including conscious and unconscious discrimination and bias in hiring and pay decisions.

Women and men work in different industries and different jobs, and female‑dominated industries and jobs usually offer lower wages. There is a lack of workplace flexibility to accommodate caring and other responsibilities, especially in very senior roles. Women have higher rates of part-time, casual and insecure work. Women spend more time out of the workforce while they undertake caring responsibilities, whether with children or ageing parents, and we know that that impacts women's career progression and opportunities. So women are disproportionately impacted by their share of unpaid caring and domestic work as well. The gender pay gap starts when women first enter the workforce. A combination of factors impact women's lifetime economic security or insecurity. As a result, women are likely to earn less than men over their lifetime, are less likely to advance their careers as far as men and are less likely than men to accumulate superannuation and savings. They are also more likely to live in poverty in their old age.

In Homelessness Week it is absolutely imperative to acknowledge that the fastest growing percentage of people experiencing homelessness are women over the age of 50, closely followed by women and children who are seeking to escape situations of domestic violence. It is particularly important to note that in this week and to demand that the Government addresses that particular issue. It is also absolutely imperative, during the pandemic and the uncertainty of these times, to acknowledge that 89 per cent of nurses are women. Therefore, the Government's wage freeze—the public service wage cut—disproportionately hurts women. It is absolutely imperative at this point in time, as we thank our nurses, midwives and all of those frontline workers during the pandemic response, to make sure that we acknowledge that they are in no way remunerated for the work that they do. We can say thank you, but they are just words. It is appalling that the wage freeze—the public service wage cuts—will impact those very people who we expect to protect us and care for us in these uncertain times. I look forward to hearing some of my colleagues outlining, with some ferocity, some of the other issues that need to be addressed today.