Leadership

The only woman at the table

Union boss Sally McManus calls for an end to Australia’s gender imbalance

By Jordaine Chattaway

Leadership

Union boss Sally McManus calls for an end to Australia’s gender imbalance

By Jordaine Chattaway

UNION boss Sally McManus says she’s still often the only woman at the table when debating issues of national importance and no-one else seems to notice. The first female head of the Australian Council of Trade Unions in 90 years said even though women are being the hardest hit by Covid-19, and make-up half the population virtually all the decisions about their welfare are still being made by men. 

“I can’t tell you how many meetings I’ve been in on over the last three months where sometimes I’ve been the only woman,” she said. “It’s very annoying when you’re the only woman in the room and you’re the one who points it out!” 

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During the crisis you’ve joined forces with the Government to help protect workers during this tough economical time – has that been challenging? I think the government understands us better and we understand them better too. It doesn’t mean we agree with each other. But I think the government knows that we don’t have horns now. I think it’s been easier too because we had common goals and a common enemy …  (in the) pandemic and so it’s easier to work together with people who you may not always have the same ideological basis, but you’ve got a common goal and you’ve got a common platform that you’re moving from.

Decisions were made relatively quickly around the implementation of Jobseeker and Jobkeeper. Are you happy with those initiatives or do you feel more could have been done? I think … how long JobKeeper took to come in … I think that was a mistake. I think we lost some jobs that could have been saved during that time. And the other obvious things are all the people that are missing out. It would have been better to have a universal system. So just universally, no matter how or why you’ve lost your job because of Coronavirus, it shouldn’t matter.

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