Non-Profit Organizations

Maritime women and men were among a record crowd celebrating a centenary of International Women's Day, with song and dance, politics and speeches in Sydney's Martin Place and other Australian cities.

MUA men and women joined the march from the Sydney Town Hall through the streets under the banner Women Transporting the World.

The call for the rally was equal pay, fair pay. Women should get the same pay as men, not just for the same work, but for women's work like caring for the elderly, the ill, the young, cleaning and factory work.

A nurse has the as many qualifications as a tradesmen, said one speaker, but all the tradesmen I know own a house at 20 and nurses go without.

It's not about the glass ceiling but the gender pay gap of a whopping 18 per cent - greater if the division is made along both gender and ethnic lines.

Speakers representing the ethnic communities, spoke of how women laboured in factories on low pay in third world conditions.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions is redoubling efforts to achieve true gender equality with a test case now before the commission.

In the past year unions have campaigned and won paid and parental leave, carer's leave and family-friendly flexible working arrangements.

But ACTU President Ged Kearney said a continuous effort and commitment was needed to achieve gender equity.

Unions launched an equal pay test case for around 150,000 social and community service workers in Fair Work Australia in early 2010 to redress the pay discrepancy.

She called for employers to face stronger enforcement of equal opportunity laws.

The recent announcement of government reform of Australia's equal opportunity workplace laws after decades of inaction is welcomed by unions.

"Employers have had several decades to deliver equal opportunity in workplaces but have failed to do it, so it's now time for legislative enforcement," Ms Kearney said.

"We are pleased that the Federal Government is acting on recommendations made by unions to make reforms to the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Act.

"Equality in the workplace needs to be backed by accountability and enforcement.

The government is setting up a working group to manage the outcome of a landmark equal pay test case.

"Equal pay is a workplace right and a human right, and Fair Work Australia must remember this when considering its decision."

Meanwhile in Tasmania MUA Women held a BBQ Pioneer Park East Devonport, in Melbourne MUA members joined the march through city to parliament house.

Produced by Jamie McMechan Maritime Union of Australia - Film Unit.

Maritime Union of Australia (MUA)
mua.org.au

Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU)
actu.org.au/

International Transport Workers Federation (ITF)
itfglobal.org

International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC)
ituc-csi.org/

j vimeo.com/21226202

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