Chapter 8: Collective agreements: advancing a transformation agenda for gender equality?
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Collective bargaining can be an important tool for advancing gender equality at work. This chapter examines the content of collective agreements across a range of countries. It identifies five themes across these agreements: equality of opportunity in recruitment and promotion, equal pay, maternity and health protection at work, work-family reconciliation and gender-based violence and harassment. The clauses under these themes are classified according to whether they are gender accommodating, gender responsive or advance a transformative agenda for gender equality by addressing underlying structural inequalities. The analysis concludes that while some collective agreements appear to advance a transformative agenda for gender equality, for example through gender-neutral job evaluations and the revaluing of work in female dominated occupations, these represent pockets of innovative practices. Most clauses are at best gender responsive, such as in the case of anti-discrimination measures and maternity protection and leave. Others appear to have been negotiated to accommodate what are considered women’s issues. Thus, while gender equality bargaining can be an important regulatory tool for advancing a transformative agenda for gender equality, evidence of this practice is more limited. This suggests that there is significant scope for employers and trade unions to improve their strategic approach at the bargaining table.

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