The Guardian January 27, 1999


It pays to be union
Women win equal pay

At the end of last year the Sydney electronics manufacturer HPM finally 
agreed to demands by Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union (AMWU) for 
female process workers and packers to receive equal pay compared to male 
general hands and storepersons.

The AMWU, with the support of the ACTU, first made an application in the 
Commission three years ago on behalf of 300 female process workers and 20 
female packers for equal remuneration orders against the company.

The company did everything it could to thwart the union's claim. It used 
technical arguments and delaying tactics in the Commission, and even tried 
sacking the higher paid male general hands to end the discrimination and so 
stop the case. 

Finally, after two weeks of industrial action at its factories, HPM agreed 
to the phasing in of equal pay in an enterprise agreement.

By the end of the agreement the wage rates of female process workers will 
raised to the same rate as the highest paid general hand and female packers 
to those of male storepersons.

"I would like to personally congratulate the women at HPM for their courage 
and perseverance in fighting for and finally winning equal pay", said ACTU 
President Jennie George, commenting on the victory.

"These women, the majority of whom come from a non-English speaking 
background, have been active in providing statements and witness evidence 
in the case as well as staffing the pickets outside the factory gates. It 
is a direct result of their actions that they have won this important 
victory."

Ms George said, "This outcome confirms what we have seen in statistics 
published earlier this month [December] showing it pays to be a union 
member  especially if you are a woman working in Australia.

"Women union members earn on average 24.5% or $107.00 more than their non-
union counterparts. The women at HPM can confirm these obvious benefits of 
union membership."

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