Equal Wages for Dick & Jane

Photo: Office buildings in the centre of Penrith.

This afternoon, I was listening to LBC’s Alison Bell talking on her October 30 show about inequality between male and female wages. In London, a study has been done and on average, they found a 17% difference in the favour of men when it comes to wages. Or to put it another way, women would be working for free from October 30 until the end of the year and to highlight this, October 30 was called “Women’s No Pay Day.”

Obviously I do not have the advantage of living or working in London so I do not know to the extent that this is true. However even here in Australia, stories like this surface from time to time. So I will comment merely on my Australian experience.

On the surface, I do not believe that this survey (if the result is similar here in Australia) would be correct. While I have spent the vast majority of my working life working in the public sector, I have worked casually in the private sector. Of course, I also know people who work in the private sector.

At rock bottom, I believe that men and women start as equal in the wage department for doing the same job. Note that I am comparing apples with apples and not apples with oranges or salad. After all, you don’t win friends with salad.

After all, when was the last time that you saw separate wages quoted in a job advertisement for men and women? They don’t say “if you are a bloke, the wage is $25 per hour but if you are a chick, you are on $18.50”

Let’s take my job as a train driver for example. There is absolutely no difference between male and female hourly rates for drivers of the same grade. While there are separate grades based on length of service (trainee, 1st year, 2nd year, thereafter), there is no difference between men and women AT THIS POINT. The same applies for the base annual rate.

Where is DOES change for everyone regardless of gender is when you get above the base rate. This is where things can get vary depending on each person’s circumstances and also depends partly on the luck of the draw in relation to rosters. Things like weekend work, super duper early morning work r late afternoon shifts (and therefore penalty rates) can have a great effect on the final figure that you earn above the base in each case regardless if you are Dick or Jane. Another factor that can increase or decrease someone’s final actual wage is overtime.

Each person have different circumstances and personally I know that I value my days off so I do not do any overtime. Some people might do 1 or 2 days per fortnight. However at least in my experience, the difference isn’t always due to gender or family responsibilities.

Then of course there is the stage of your life when you have kids and I don’t have experience in that. Obviously this is a major time for a family and this is one stage where women can lose coin.

Also, there is the situation where women and men may do different type jobs and there are very few women in executive type positions in a male:female ratio and this obviously affects wages as well.

However, if you had a woman following me around and doing exactly the same rosters as me for an entire year, you will find that she earns exactly the same amount of coin for doing exactly the same amount of work as me and that is what needs to happen. And that is my main point, if you do the same work, you should get the same amount of coin.

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