1969 Equal Pay Case

The Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union & Others v Meat and Allied Trades Federation of Australia & Others (Equal Pay Cases) (1969) 127 CAR 1142 – Moore and Williams JJ., Chambers Public Service Arbitrator and Gough C, Judgment, 19 June 1969

Case summary

First of the two major equal pay cases. Before this time women's wages are set substantially lower than that of their male equivalent (on the basis that the male basic wage contains a 'breadwinner' component not applicable to women). The introduction of equal pay is prompted by a number of factors, including the ILO Convention on Equal Pay, increasing female employment, and the abolition of the Basic Wage in 1967.

The 1969 decision grants 'equal pay for equal work'—where women perform 'equal work' alongside men they should receive equal pay. The Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission rules, however, that equal pay is not applicable 'where the work in question is essentially or usually performed by females but is work upon which male employees may also be employed'. By the time of the 1972 equal pay case, figures are produced to show that only 18 per cent of women workers have benefited as a result of the 1969 decision