Prime Minister Turnbull ignoring his own gender equality advice

The CPSU says Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has exhibited breathtaking hypocrisy in advocating for gender equality at the same time as his Government seeks to strip family-friendly conditions for tens of thousands of women working in the Commonwealth public sector.

Mr Turnbull made his comments at a breakfast this morning for the launch of International Women’s Day, telling the event that “workplace flexibility enables gender equality” and that “everything we must do must be designed to ensure that families can manage work and child care commitments”.

He told the breakfast: “We have so much potential with technology to be able to enable greater flexibility in workplaces and we have to do that and, of course, the public service should lead by example.”

CPSU National Secretary Nadine Flood said: “The Prime Minister should be judged by his actions not his words. What Malcolm Turnbull says about gender equality is commendable but the way his Government treats women in the workplace, particularly those working for the Commonwealth, is an absolute disgrace.”

“Mr Turnbull says the public sector should be leading the way in flexible workplaces and we entirely agree, given nearly 60% of Commonwealth workers are women and in agencies like the Department of Human Services that figure is over 70%. The problem is that the Government’s public sector bargaining mess is producing the opposite outcome. The importance of rights and conditions around flexibility is one of the key reasons why after three years there are still more than 100,000 Commonwealth workers without new enterprise agreements.”

“Last year’s Senate inquiry into this protracted bargaining mess, which heard from public sector workers, leading academics and others, made damning findings about the years of suffering caused to workers and their families. The committee recommended sensible changes including that the Government should encourage family-friendly agreements and allow domestic violence leave. The inquiry heard personal stories including from women in DHS worried they’d no longer be able to juggle their work with dropping the kids off at child care or taking leave when their daughter or son is home sick from school.”

“Another terrible example of Mr Turnbull not letting the public sector ‘lead by example’ is around domestic violence leave. While private companies like Telstra, Woolworths and Qantas have recognised the importance of such leave for some time, the Government continues to stop legally enforceable domestic violence leave from being added to public sector agreements.”

“The Government continues trying to insist there is no problem with public sector bargaining, despite the extraordinarily long time this dispute has run for. Mr Turnbull’s own speech today gives an insight into why bargaining is unresolved. Workplace flexibility isn’t something that these workers can live without, and the Government needs to recognise that.”

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