Playing catch up: gender pay equity and the pursuit of effective jurisprudence in Australia, 1969-2007

Smith, M 2008, Playing catch up: gender pay equity and the pursuit of effective jurisprudence in Australia, 1969-2007, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Social Sciences and Planning, RMIT University.

Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Playing catch up: gender pay equity and the pursuit of effective jurisprudence in Australia, 1969-2007
Author(s) Smith, M
Year 2008
Abstract This thesis examines the optimal design of gender pay equity regulation in Australian labour law. The examination is framed by a weakening in Australia’s gender pay equity performance since the industrial breakthroughs of 1969 and 1972, an outcome at odds with a policy apparatus that directs more attention to the needs of women in waged labour. This inquiry is advanced by a case study examination of industrial proceedings that provide a unique opportunity to assess three stages of pay equity reform: the adoption of federal equal pay principles in 1969 and 1972; a legislative entitlement to equal remuneration, introduced to federal labour law in 1993; and distinct initiatives developed in two state industrial jurisdictions. The project of gender pay equity reform in Australia, following the end of the long post-war boom, has been accompanied by a series of competing discourses. This has comprised both a right to equal remuneration and a series of institutional arrangements and relationships that compromise this right. The basis of Australia’s class settlement has been recast in favour of capital in a way that is prejudicial to gender pay equity being achieved. In this brave new world capital remains resistant to revaluing the price of feminised labour. Thus this recast settlement has gendered consequences which are evident also in the masculinist construction of labour law institutions and their processes. It is these dimensions that underpin the resistance to redressing the institutional and cultural determinants of rates of pay and the weakness of measures directed nominally to this task. If federal labour law is to be effective, the right to equal remuneration for work of equal value is a key starting point and remains an important foundation in capturing feminist claims on the state and the market. It requires accompanying institutional measures that enable examination and remedy of the undervaluation of women’s waged labour and which do not necessarily test the validity of those rates of pay through reference to embedded, masculinised norms and practices. It was measures akin to these that emerged from developments in state jurisdictions, developments that were swept away by the latest phase of neo-liberal reform. To enable collective and aggregate reform the right to equal remuneration needs to be conjoined to wage determination in industry settlements.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Social Sciences and Planning
Keyword(s) Gender pay equity
equal remuneration
rights based discourses
comparable worth
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Created: Fri, 29 Nov 2013, 14:12:37 EST by Denise Paciocco
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