Unions put coalition on notice over women

·2-min read

Unions have challenged the Morrison government to deliver a budget for women with a suite of measures to close the gender pay gap and improve safety.

While last year's economic blueprint faced widespread criticism due to a lack of measures targeted at women, gender issues are now in even sharper focus after sexual assault allegations rocked federal politics.

Australian Council of Trade Unions president Michele O'Neil will put the coalition on notice during a speech at the National Press Club in Canberra on Tuesday.

"Many of us are wondering whether we have witnessed a genuinely transformative moment for women over the last few months or whether once the headlines die down, so will any commitment to real change," she will say.

"The 2021 budget will give us this answer."

Later in the week, Ms O'Neil will launch a suite of suggested budget measures alongside a group of women from across the political spectrum including the business community.

"A better budget for women is not just a better budget for women - it's better economic management, it's better for men, it's better for everyone," she says.

The ACTU argues measures to support women's workforce participation, wage equality and safety must be central to the government's economic recovery plan.

Unions want free universal child care, an expanded 26-week paid parental leave scheme, 10 days paid domestic violence leave and full implementation of the 55 Respect at Work report's recommendations.

The Business Council of Australia has backed increasing paid parental leave to 20 weeks and improving child care subsidies.

Ms O'Neil is also set to pressure the coalition to take serious action to combat record low wage growth.

"They have overseen the longest and most painful decline in wage growth of any government since the Great Depression," she will say.

"Low wage growth is not an accident."

The ACTU president warns the May 11 budget shapes as a fragile moment in Australia's recovery, which needs ongoing avoidance of trickle-down economics.