The most famous and the first was Dame Mary Gilmore, a poet and writer, who contributed to The Australian Worker (the forerunner to the current magazine The Worker). She was campaigning on maternity allowances, child health centres, the rights of the aged and infirm, and many other social issues in 1908 – a woman ahead of her time.
It’s a heritage the AWU honours with its commitment to equity and the right for all to work without discrimination on any basis.
The gender pay gap, put at 17.5 per cent in 2012, remains a source of frustration for all women and for the AWU, which has pursued wage justice by its involvement in campaigns including that which led to the landmark decision for Social and Community Sector Workers in 2011.
The issue of ‘women’s work’ and breaking down stereotypes is close to the heart of AWU principles. Family-friendly conditions are consistently pursed in all its Enterprise Agreements.
On a community level the union continues to be active on important issues. The AWU recognises the workplace effects of private tragedy such as domestic violence and so the AWU pushes for the inclusion of clauses in Enterprise Agreements giving special consideration for victims.
The AWU continues to pursue advances for all women, and will continue to do so until parity with men is a reality.