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News News Another study shows that woman are worse off on AWA's
Women employees are paid less than men under Work Choices AWAs, according to consultations of 60 women's organisations by the National Foundation for Australian Women. The foundation's What Women Want report cites ABS average weekly earnings data showing the nation's gender pay gap widened in the year to November 2006, with the biggest gap in Western Australia, the state with the highest rate of AWAs. Women's average weekly full time earnings as a percentage of men's was 75% in WA, compared to 84% nationally.

However, Workplace Relations Minister Joe Hockey cites ABS average weekly earnings data released last month showing women's wage growth outstripped men's in the year to February, when women's total real earnings increased by 3.5% compared to 2% for men.

Hockey also said ABS figures showed the gender wage gap has narrowed since the Howard Government came to office, with women's hourly earnings as a percentage of men's increasing from 87.1% in February 1996 to 89.4% in February 2007.

But the What Women Want study said the data referred to by Hockey was for adults in full-time employment - not counting hours worked or part time earnings. The ratio of the average ordinary time weekly earnings of adult women and men employed full-time in February 2007 was 84.3% - an insignificant change from 83.6% in November 2006, the report said.

The first significant deterioration in the relative pay of women in Western Australia coincided with the introduction of individual bargaining in that state, and the experience mirrored that of New Zealand under previous government laws.

Gender wage inequality was worse in part-time and casual employment, and AWAs were most common in the retail sector, where there has been little if any wage growth, the report said.

It said rural women workers in particular were concerned about considerations of the location of a business when determining compensation for protected award conditions under the Government's new fairness test.

The report recommended the adoption of paid maternity leave rights, better auditing of wage data and provision of more information on workplace rights to employees.
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