NTEU calls for action on domestic violence on International Women’s Day
To mark International Women’s Day (8 March), the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) is calling on universities to recognise that domestic violence is not only a social and economic issue, but an industrial matter as well.
NTEU National President, Jeannie Rea, said that the union campaign reflected this year’s United Nation’s theme for International Women’s Day – “A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women” – and, just as importantly, the union’s own push to ensure domestic violence leave is included in collective agreements.
“The NTEU is tackling the issue of domestic violence through concrete action. Domestic violence leave is included as a standard clause in enterprise bargaining logs of claims lodged, or being lodged, with 37 universities across Australia,” she said.
“Most collective agreements are still in the throes of being negotiated but we’re mightily pleased that domestic violence leave was part of the Central Queensland University (CQU) agreement reached just before Christmas.
“The CQU agreement guarantees access to sick, carers’, annual leave or leave without pay, flexible working arrangements, including changes to working times and work locations, and additional leave with pay upon application. All claims call for specific domestic violence leave.”
Rea said that the NTEU was also working to ensure people experiencing domestic violence were better supported in workplaces and that the whole community was better educated on the impact of domestic violence.
“It’s a sad fact that male violence continues to be a reality for women and girls right around the world, including Australia. One in three Australian women experiences domestic violence in her lifetime. Domestic violence is the leading cause of homelessness for women and children, and death, disability and illness for women aged between 15 and 44 years (VicHealth, 2004),” she said.
“The impact of domestic violence radiates out, affecting families, friends, and business. In 2004, Access Economics estimated that domestic violence cost business over $8 billion annually, through the loss of productivity, income, absenteeism and replacement of staff.
“However, we know this is the tip of the iceberg, as this figure doesn’t take into account the cost of domestic violence in term of health, welfare and social services, legal and justice systems. This data, seemingly the only available, is nearly a decade-old so presumably the real cost is much greater now.”
Rea said that remaining in paid employment is critical to women having the financial means to leave violent relationships.
“Too often women lose their jobs or have to resign because of the debilitating impact domestic violence has on their work. Holding onto their jobs and being safe at work make a real difference, and that means domestic violence is an issue for both unions and employers.
“While we celebrate the many achievements of women this Friday, we also need to remember that there is still so much more we must do to improve the lives of women around the world.
“That’s why the NTEU is seeking to put in place industrial mechanisms to help those dealing with the effects of domestic violence, and do our bit as a union to help end the violence against women more generally.”
Rea said it was too often forgotten that International Women’s Day grew out of a strike by young women clothing workers in New York in 1908.
“Those young women wanted better wages and conditions but they also wanted respect and an end to discrimination in all spheres of life. It’s now 85 years since International Women’s Day was first celebrated in Australia but we have a long way to go before full equality is reached.”
Media enquiries: Carmel Shute, NTEU Media Officer: 0412 569 356; email@example.com
Media comment: Jeannie Rea, NTEU National President: 0434 609 531 firstname.lastname@example.org