From equal pay to overcoming undervaluation: The Australian National Pay Equity Coalition 1988–2011. By: Blackman, Danny; Burgmann, Meredith; Hall, Philippa; Hayes, Fran; Junor, Anne; Smith, Meg. Journal of Industrial Relations. Sep2020, Vol. 62 Issue 4, p582-607. 26p.

Australian feminists have struggled to define the International Labour Organisation’s Equal Remuneration Convention’ goal of gender pay equity and find a platform for achieving it. Approaches based on discrimination, or a male comparator, have proved unworkable. Networking nationally and internationally, the National Pay Equity Coalition (1988–2011) formulated many submissions to industrial tribunals and parliamentary inquiries. Early interventions argued the disadvantages to women of the decentralisation of bargaining in the 1990s, but following the failure of discrimination-based cases, this focus shifted. National Pay Equity Coalition submissions came to define the gender gap, not as one between women and male comparators, but as a recognition gap. They argued that indicators of a history of gender-based undervaluation should lead to a bias-free work value assessment. Bias lay in the distance between actual job demands and their characterisation in classification descriptions. It could be redressed by fuller recognition of the work value of feminised service roles. This approach to the recognition and remedy of undervaluation informed the 1998 NSW Pay Equity Inquiry and the NSW Equal Remuneration Principle, but is not recognised in federal labour law. No Equal Remuneration Principle yet applies in the federal jurisdiction which since 2009 has governed most Australian wage setting amidst growing social inequality.