Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Ms Dunlevy on a sinister Catholic conspiracy (!) to suppress women’s wages


I didn’t blog on this curious story last week because I thought that CathNews might post it, but since it hasn’t, here are some excerpts from an on-line version of the article by the Sydney Daily Telegraph’s Ms Sue Dunlevy:

Blokey unions blamed for women's poor pay

[The article’s Thursday, June 4, 2009 print-edition heading and subheading were “Union blokes block equality” and “Catholic views blamed over pay”, respectively]

MALE trade union leaders - many of whom are Catholic - are holding back female wages because of their conservative views on the role of women.
But the article provides no data on the respective religious affiliations of trade union leaders, so I question whether “many” male trade union leaders are Catholic. (And, as you’ll see, the contention that any trade union leaders are suppressing women’s wages relative to men is pretty poorly-founded.)

A submission to the House of Representatives pay equity inquiry claimed male trade union leaders believed in the primacy of the male wage earner and ignored women's claims for equal pay. The views are blamed for a 17 per cent pay gap between men and women.
Blamed by whom, you ask?

"Some trades unions, administered by mainly male officers, traded off women's claims for equal pay or maternity leave for wage increases when it came to the crunch in award negotiations," said the Women into Politics group [in its submission to Federal Parliament’s pay equity inquiry], which took particular aim at the NSW Teachers Federation.
But the reference to the N.S.W. Teachers Federation is odd, since it hardly has a reputation for Catholic sympathies or male chauvinism; indeed, it turns out that the objection was based on attitudes from over half a century ago! Later on, Ms Dunlevy says that

SDA national secretary Joe de Bruyn, who controls a powerful voting bloc at ALP conferences, is a Catholic who opposes abortion, stem-cell research and lesbians getting access to IVF. In 2002, he opposed a policy to increase a quota that put women in 30 per cent of winnable seats in the ALP.

But more than half the SDA's members are women and Mr de Bruyn rejected Ms [Joan] Bielski's view [that “even today some unions such as (the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees) are still paternalistic”].

"That obviously is nonsense, people in the retail industry get equal pay," he said.
Well, that pretty well refutes the notion that the S.D.A, of which I am a financial member, is guilty of some kind of wage injustice towards women, so it seems that Ms Bielski doesn’t really have a leg to stand on. And hence neither does Ms Dunlevy. What an odd little piece of journalism.

But upon reading the Women into Politics pay equity inquiry submission for myself, the plot thickened, as they say. The submission is available here, and in its six pages there is no mention of Catholics (and I used the word find function in order to make sure). Was this angle suggested by Ms Bielski, then, or is it the product of Ms Dunlevy’s own pre-occupations?

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of St. Columba, Abbot, A.D. 2009

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