ACTU wants oversight to ensure funding helps women – including those working in ECEC

by Freya Lucas

November 13, 2020

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) has called for oversight to ensure that taxpayer funding is delivered for women, calling on the Federal Government to establish an oversight body with representatives from unions, businesses and Government, to make sure that the historic levels of taxpayer funding being spent to help the economy recover benefits women. 

 

Outlined in the ACTU report Leaving Women Behind: The Real Cost of the COVID Recovery, which was released earlier this week, the proposal is comprehensive, and seeks to address the  Federal Government’s 2020 budget, which  outlines the specific economic impacts of the pandemic on women and provides a policy platform that would ensure women do not get left behind.

 

Given the high prominence of women working in the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector, the report and its recommendations are worthy of consideration by those working in the sector. 

 

Core to the recommendations made in the report is an urgent call to the Federal Government, seeking to ensure that inequality is not further entrenched by Government  measures including those announced in the budget to assist Australia’s economic recovery. 

 

The major investments in jobs recovery, the Union said, are aimed at male-dominated industries, and the sectors most impacted by COVID and dominated by women, such as ECEC have been ignored in the budget. 

 

By failing to establish free, universal childcare, the union said, the Government has missed an opportunity that would have created jobs and boosted labour market participation.

  

The ACTU report outlines a series of policies which will support women’s employment and economic equality, and would also lead to a more robust recovery, including:

 

  • Establishing quality, free universal childcare

 

  • Reversing the cuts to JobKeeper and expanding JobKeeper to cover casual and migrant workers and abolishing the lower tier payment

 

  • Providing Paid Pandemic Leave in the National Employment Standards (NES)

 

  • Introducing 10 days paid family and domestic violence leave into the NES

 

  • Reforming super by removing the $450 monthly income threshold on contributions, making super payable on every dollar for every worker, complying with the legislated super increase next year and legislating a pathway to 15% contributions for all workers.

 

  • Scrapping all early access to super.

 

  • Introducing 26 weeks paid parental leave and enforceable rights to protect all workers with caring responsibilities

 

“We know that women are overrepresented in the frontline workplaces which have been keeping our community safe through the pandemic,” ACTU President Michele O’Neil said, “and they are shouldering an unequal share of the immense caring responsibilities which have arisen from the crisis.”

 

“If the Federal Government is committed to a shared and robust recovery, they must take seriously the particular impact of COVID on women, and the lack of support of the 2020 budget in supporting women’s employment and economic participation,” she added. 

 

The crisis situation presented by the upheavals of COVID-19 offers an opportunity, Ms O’Neil said in closing, to create a more equal society, address systemic failures and ensure that public investment is improving our society, not entrenching inequality.

For further information about the work of the ACTU, please see here.

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