Impact of Workchoices on Women

13 August 2007

The justice agency of the Uniting Church's National Assembly, UnitingJustice Australia, today welcomed the report Women and WorkChoices: Impacts on the Low Pay Sector, which was launched in Parliament House this afternoon.

Rev. Elenie Poulos, National Director of UnitingJustice, said that the report's findings on the effects on the pay, conditions and employment security of women were disturbing. "Sadly, this report confirms our worst fears about the negative impacts of WorkChoices on vulnerable women. The cases outlined in the report illustrate the terrible effects of this legislation and the employment climate it has fostered.

"When WorkChoices removed the job security of so many workers, it made them much more vulnerable to unfair treatment. The research shows clear evidence that basic safeguards like the unfair dismissals provision should not have been removed," Rev. Poulos said.

The report shows that many women have experienced a 'take it or leave approach' to Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs) and a hardening of employer attitudes to the need for women to balance hours of work with family.

Rev. Poulos said, "Without basic protections such as unfair dismissal laws, and with the introduction of AWAs, vulnerable women workers have fared poorly in terms of their capacity to negotiate fair working conditions with their employers. All in all, a heavy price being paid by women in terms of reductions in pay, intensification of work and poorer job security."

The Uniting Church has in the past spoken out against the impacts of the WorkChoices legislation on society's most vulnerable. In its submission to the original WorkChoices inquiry, the Church expressed its fears for vulnerable workers, including women, and called on the Government to conduct substantial research with an aim to enhancing women's labour market status.

Rev. Poulos said, "This significant qualitative report was produced by some of the most respected researchers in their field. We urge all sides of politics to heed the recommendations of this important research into the impacts of the WorkChoices laws, and support women in the workplace."