Towards equal opportunity for blue-collar women workers

Shipwright and AMWU member Melita

The fight for equal opportunity for women in the workplace must move beyond the narrow focus on company boards and extend to creating better jobs for women in blue collar industries, according to a report released by the AMWU today.

The 'Breaking the perspex ceiling' report says that in manufacturing and engineering industries, women workers are concentrated in low-pay, low-skill jobs and are underrepresented in the ranks of skilled tradespeople.

A survey of AMWU women members in NSW found:

- 74% have never been promoted to a more senior or higher paying role
- 74% see no opportunity for a promotion in the next five years
- 63% say they don't receive workplace training
- 44% are the main income earner in their family and
- 35% struggle to meet weekly bills

"There are great jobs in manufacturing and engineering, but women are often excluded from them due to lack of opportunity," said AMWU NSW Secretary Tim Ayres.

"Some industries, particularly for professional women have made good progress in identifying and grappling with the barriers to their career advancement and fulfillment.

"The concept of the glass ceiling has shone a light on the practices that undermine women at a senior level and prompted action, but there is much more to do.

"In blue collar industries, there has been very little attention paid to dismantling the barriers to women's advancement and satisfaction at work. In many workplaces, women struggle for the basics of a decent job: fair pay, respect in the workplace, opportunities for training and promotion and flexibility to meet their caring responsibilities.

"Government, unions, employers and education providers need to work together to promote real equal opportunities in blue collar industries - by really working to understand the issues, by creating more opportunities for training and skills development and by offering fair, open workplaces."

The report will be launched at the AMWU NSW Branch Women's conference today.

To read the full report, click here.

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