In 2015, working women started running “WRAW (Women’s Rights at Work) Chats” - structured conversations and surveys of working womens’ experiences.
Women from all across the state participated. We heard from women working in blue collar jobs and in white collar jobs. Women who lived in cities, in suburbs and in towns. Women who were at the start of their working lives and women who were reaching retirement. Migrant women. Women from LGBTIQ+ communities. First Nations women. Women who were working, women who were on a break and women who desperately wanted to get into paid work.
They all shared a devastating and familiar story:
Women are not safe.
Two thirds of us have experienced sexual harassment and gendered violence at work. One in five of us has left a workplace because we did not feel safe.
Women are not respected.
Nearly half of us have experienced discrimination at work. We are less likely to be promoted and more likely to be in casual, insecure and low paid jobs. We still do the majority of unpaid, unvalued work of caring for our parents, children and households. Our childcare is some of the most expensive in the world but somehow our early childhood educators - mainly women - are some of the lowest paid workers in this country.
Women are not equal.
Despite winning equal pay in 1972, we still don’t have equal pay. We retire with half the superannuation savings, which means we are more likely to end up in poverty and homelessness.
We are right to be angry.
Because we know what those in the boardrooms and corridors of power can’t seem to get their heads around - that we are entitled to be safe, that we are worthy of respect and that it is long past time that we were treated as equal.
In 2020, women carried a heavy burden during the pandemic. We were on the frontline, caring for our community. Our homes became classrooms as we juggled our work and our families. We lost jobs and income. In 2021 women have been clear – enough is enough.
We’re taking action!
Anger alone doesn’t fix things. We need to get organized, grow our movement and get out into the community to campaign for the changes we need.
As union women, we have a long and proud history of fighting for change. From the tailoresses who went on strike for fair pay in the 1880›s to the union sisters who chained themselves to buildings to demand equal pay in the 60’s and 70’s right up to today. Every painstaking inch of progress we have made, you will see us in the thick of it. Union women.
We know what it’s like to fight and we know what it’s like to win, out in the community and in our workplaces. Together, we’ve stood up as union delegates and members to win better wages and working conditions. We know what it means to back each other up.
We know what it takes - organizing and work.
Together we will take action for:
- Workplaces that are safe
- An end to discrimination, sexual harassment and gender based violence at work
- Assistance for victims of domestic and family violence to stay in work
- Respect for women’s work
- Universal, fully funded, high quality early childhood education and care – so that every child in Australia, no matter the income of their parents, gets the best start to their education
- Fully funded 3 and 4 year old kinder programs
- Fair and equal paid parental leave available to all new parents and measures to support the shared care of children
- Family friendly workplaces supporting workers to balance out work and caring
- Removal of barriers and the provision of targeted support for women - especially from marginalised communities - to work
- Fairness and equality
- Pay equity for every woman across every workplace & industry
- An end to superannuation inequality
- Specific measures to support older women facing poverty and homelessness in retirement
- Reinstatement of penalty rates and removal of insecure and precarious work arrangements
- Decent and accessible social support for single parents and women not currently in paid work
If anyone is ready for this, it’s us!
Our diversity is our strength. We are a campaign that unites across our diverse industries and communities. Our movement is for all women - cis and trans - and we recognise that many non binary gender diverse people share our experience of being harmed by the patriarchy. Our solidarity is our power. We know that exclusion and division are tactics used to keep us distracted, to pit us against each other. Our fight is too urgent and important to be divided.
In 2022 union women will work together across our mighty movement to Organise for Equality.
- We will support each other to step up and become workplace leaders, able to drive change through negotiation and enforcement of workplace rights.
- We will pressure politicians to pass laws that will hold those in power accountable for ensuring workplaces that are safe and equal.
- We will change the conversation by going out into communities and talking to our families, friends, workmates and communities about why this is important.
Organise for Equality will:
- Build a network of organised groups/chapters across Victoria, in our cities, suburbs and towns.
- Coordinate large scale action and support chapters to take action in local communities and workplaces.
- Grow power by bringing more activists into our movement.
- Build strength through intensive training and then supporting activists to apply those skills and resources to win.
- So get organised for equality!
Step 1 – Join the call!
We’re holding regular phone hook ups where you can share your ideas and find out more about the campaign and how you can get involved! To be part of a call, RSVP here
Step 2 – Join an Organise for Equality Chapter!
Do you have family, friends, workmates, union comrades or neighbours who think, like us, that it’s time women were safe, respected and equal? Then you have the makings of a campaign Chapter! We’ll provide you with training and support and in return you’ll be part of making real, lasting change. To find out more, just sign up here.
Step 3: Take action together!
There’s going to be lots going on - rallies, flash-mobs, visits to MP’s, street stalls, guerrilla art. The list is endless so stay updated by signing up here.