Mannkal Economic Education Foundation

The Cutajar Report

The Myth of the Gender Pay Gap & the Critique of Grievance Feminism

admin, 19 August 2016

The gender pay gap in western nations between working men and women based on discrimination and sexism is a myth, founded on incoherent statistical misrepresentation. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), the average full-time earnings were $1499.30 in November 2015, where females were said to earn $1325.10 in comparison to $1602.80 for men. This is a difference of $277.70 in weekly earnings, and represents a supposed 18.5% gender pay gap. This is where grievance feminists cry “sexism”, but in reality these figures only show a broad-brush average across the entire employment sector. The figures fail to consider that women may choose at some point leave the workforce to have children; resulting in women working less hours than their male counterparts. This choice means many women may make choices about their education and career before they even enter into the work force. Grievance feminists also fails to question that if the gender pay gap does genuinely exist, why are employers not hiring more women. According to these figures, women are a lot cheaper to employ. The answer is that this is simply not true.

In July 2015, Kate Andrews of the Institute of Economic Affairs brought British grievance feminists to their knees with cold hard facts from the Office of National Statistics. The data showed that women aged between 22-29, and who were working more than 30 hours a week, earned 1.1% more on average than their male counterparts when specific factors such as working hours and time off work were taken into consideration, and that women aged 30-39 were also earning more. Where a woman’s wages begin to decline is if they choose to leave the workforce to have children. While the modern woman can have it all, both a family and career, if she so desires, women cannot expect to have it all and be paid the same as men if they are not doing the same amount of work. Between 2014 – 2015, 43.8% of women worked part-time, as opposed to 14.6% of men (ABS) in Australia. The choice to have a family has consequences, and changing working hours and responsibilities will inevitably have an impact on a person’s wage regardless of their gender.

Furthermore, these figures do not account for skill or education levels, nor does it factor in job risk. The majority of mining-sector labour jobs in Australia are filled by men, and due not only to the demand for their skilled labour, but also the risk of the dangerous work they undertake, they are paid more than other occupations such as child care and computer IT. According to Christina Hoff Summers, academic at the American Enterprise Institute, there is “a complicated mix of burdens and benefits” where men are overrepresented in dangerous professions that pay more, however women tend to be better educated and live longer. Between 2012 and 2014, the life expectancy of men was 80.3 years, whereas for women it was 84.4 years (ABS). During this time period more than 60% of women lived longer than 85 years, while only 45% of men lived past 85. But grievance feminists seem to have little concern with this stark difference in life expectancy, to which the strain of life-long manual labour is a major contributor.

One of the most important factors in weekly earnings figures is their failure to incorporate overtime. When total earnings (including overtime) were considered, the full-time total earnings for men were $1684.70, in comparison to the $1602.80 without overtime. For women, the full-time total earnings were $1343.20 in comparison to $1325.10 without overtime; proving that men increased their average earnings through overtime at a greater rate than women. According to the ABS, 38% of men work overtime in comparison to 30% of women. In addition, 71% of male single job holders worked a full five days a week, compared to only 61% of women, and where 31% of single job holder males work both on weekdays and weekends, just 25% of women perform these times. Of employees working 6 or 7 days a week, 10% of men worked 6 days a week in comparison to 4% of women, and 6% of men worked 7 days a week in comparison to 2% of women (ABS). These figures show that the supposed gender pay gap is drastically misrepresented, and ignores that men and women have different priorities and preferences in their working lives.

In education over recent years, women have consistently outnumbered men in both high school and tertiary qualifications. In 2015, 90.1% of women aged 20-24 held a year 12 qualification or a Certificate II or above, compared to just 86.3% of men. In 2015, 30% of males aged 25-29 held a bachelor degree or above, as opposed to 40% of women in the same age bracket. Whilst women as a whole are better educated, they tend to pursue fields with less demand for higher wages and greater flexibility in working hours.  When these factors are considered, it is quite clear that disparity in pay rates are not the result of employer discrimination or sexism, but rather of choices made by rational adults. If grievance feminists were truly concerned about assisting women in transitioning between family and work, they would support policy proposals such as deregulating the child care sector to allow greater competition; which will enable parents to reinvest in themselves and return to the workforce.

If grievance feminists claim their movement is about the equality of the sexes, why is it that we never hear feminists advocating for male representation in sectors traditionally dominated by women, such as nursing and teaching? Instead, grievance feminists have adopted a violent, nasty, bitter tone that advocates misandry and female chauvinism; adopting a man-shaming, victim-hood script of psychotic misinformation regurgitated in safe spaces across university campuses. Not all white men are privileged and not all women are oppressed, and it is this oversight that is leading to the fall of feminism. Where feminism was once a basic quest for legal recognition and equality, the grievance feminism movement has swung the pendulum too far, and it is now time to restore the sentiment of equality within these radical movements. Despite the existence of laws to protect women’s rights in western nations, grievance feminists continue to play the victim and are more concerned with campaigns such as ‘free the nipple’ than about women being stoned to death.

Modern day feminism is not a synonym for equality, but for exclusivity. It is a gender-biased word of reversed sexism, indoctrinating women to believe that they are subject to men in contemporary western societies, while ignoring the need for women’s empowerment in other parts of the world. It is choices men and women make about investing in their education, their skills and job experience that leads to them getting paid different salaries and not systematic sexism. It is social decisions and cultural attitudes outside of the workplace in which women still tend to take charge of the home and children in society that is the cause of any disparity in wages and this should not be misrepresented by arguing women will be paid less than men if undertaking the same work as men because of sexism.

ABCC..if only it were as easy as 1, 2, 3

admin, 4 May 2016

Sharni Cutajar, 4/5/2016

In the lead up to an election, most people will agree politics is an unpredictable job to be in. However, I think it’s safe to say it was Malcolm Turnbull who caught us all by surprise in March by recalling Parliament to debate the reintroduction of the ABCC and has left a lot of West Perth inner circles feeling a little nervous. So what’s with all the acronyms and why does Malcolm Turnbull want us to return to the polling booths on July 2?

The Office of the Australian Building Construction Commissioner (ABCC) was a construction industry watchdog established in 2005 to “monitor and promote appropriate standards of conduct throughout the building and construction industry” (ABC) and to quash union corruption and boost production in the construction industry. In 2004, the number of days lost to industrial disputes per 1000 workers annually was 224 and after the introduction of the ABCC this number dropped to 24 in 2006. In 2012, the Gillard government replaced the ABCC with the Fair Work Building and Construction (FWBC ) agency and since then the number of working days lost has again risen and consequently production has been affected. It is the bureaucracy and union system that strip away the right to work and costs the construction industry productivity.  At the time, John Lloyd, Director of the Institute of Public Affairs’ Work Reform and Productivity Unit said “this move will prove harmful for the building and construction industry, and the Australian economy” (IPA).

In 2013, the Abbott Government sought to re-introduce the ABCC through the Building and Construction Industry (Improving Productivity) Bill 2013, however the bill was struck down by the Senate on August 17th 2015. In the second reading speech given by Christpher Pyne of the Building and Construction Industry (Improving Productivity) Bill 2013 [No.2], the bill sought to:

“re-establish the Australian Building and Construction Commission to ensure the rule of law is enforced in the building and construction industry. The Australian Building and Construction Commission will be led by its commissioner, who will have the critical task of monitoring, promoting and enforcing appropriate standards of conduct by building industry participants and referring matters to other relevant agencies and bodies as required.”

For a bill that seeks to end the lawlessness and corruption that costs the Australian economy billions and ensure greater productivity and competition, the ABCC Bill has been met with great hostility within the Labor camp and the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) at a number of turns.  So why the controversy?

Recently, Shadow Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Brendan O’Connor, made a bold statement that workers in the construction industry will have fewer rights than a criminal suspect of dealing the drug,‘ice’ under the proposed ABCC. Quite a bold statement indeed, although completely misconceived. Any person examined by the ABCC will be providing information as a witness in a civil investigation, and under the proposed ABCC legislation is refused their “right to silence” according to Labor and the unions. The ABCC examines individuals to “gather information from witnesses in relation to construction workplace activities” (ABC) relating to a civil investigation, whereas an interview with a criminal suspect is concerned with collecting evidence when interviewed by police.  If a drug dealer were examined by the Australian Crime Commission and refused to give information, they too would commit an offence. Likewise, if a building worker were suspected of committing a criminal offence, they would be entitled to their “right to silence” just as an ice dealer would. As part of the ABC’s Fact Check segment, Professor Andrew Goldsmith of Flinders University Law School calls O’Connor’s remarks a flawed comparison and states civil and criminal law are “two different processes with distinct purposes.” The unions are caught up in arguing a false point of law out of fear that the ABCC, with the power to enforce appropriate standards of conduct within the construction industry, will control the power of unions.

As a policy of the Australian Construction Industry Forum (ACIF), the ABCC seeks to investigate and prosecute breaches in workplace laws including unlawful industrial action. The Heydon Royal Commission found instances of unlawful behaviour in the construction industry and now more than 100 officials face 1000 charges for breaking industrial law. Under section 60 of the ABCC notes a person may be required “to give information, produce documents or answer questions in relation to an investigation or a suspected contravention or (building laws) by a building industry part.” Workers called to give information will be given 14 days examination notice, can be represented by a lawyer of their choice and will have all relevant expenses paid for. The purpose of the ABCC is to investigate unlawful industrial action and workers are still protected under the Act. Under section 102 of the Act, any information provided by the witness cannot be used against them in subsequent hearings, nor under section 103 will they face civil or criminal liability, as a result of giving information.

Whether or not you think Malcolm Turnbull wanted the ABCC Bill to be shut down by the Senate from the very start and only needed an excuse to call the double dissolution election under the new Senate voting system, one cannot deny it wasn’t a skilful lesson in constitutional law that has certainly put the spotlight on the corruption in the construction industry and on the Senate crossbenchers, with their vote needed to pass the Bill. Not surprising the ABCC Bill was struck down on April 18, 2016 with the Senate voting against – 36 votes to 34, with Senators Lambie, Lazarus, Muir and Madigan voting against. This now allows Malcolm Turnbull to call on the Governor-General to dissolve both houses of Parliament by? July 2. It is hoped with a double dissolution election, the ABCC Bill will be passed.