That is a flagrant breach of the equal pay principles that have been pushed in the media for several decades:
NEW mums will be paid double for their first six weeks back at work under a major insurer's 20-week maternity leave scheme.
Insurance Australia Group, which owns CGU and NRMA Insurance, is offering the generous scheme to its 10,000 employees from today.
IAG is offering mothers 14 weeks' standard paid leave, plus six weeks at double pay when they return to work.
Combined with the Federal Government's 18 weeks' paid parental leave, women working at the insurance companies will get almost a year's wages while off work caring for children.
Could that be any clearer? If a woman has two children over a four year period she will end up being paid nearly four years' wages for two years' work; her male peers will work almost twice as many hours for the same income.
Will the unions stand up to protect equal pay for men? Not on your life:
The ACTU has welcomed the announcement, saying it should put pressure on other big banks and insurers to review their paid parental schemes.
"I think companies are not going to have any choice,'' ACTU president Ged Kearney told ABC Radio on Monday.
"We really need women to participate in our work place. It is important for the economy."
What about the media? Will it protest on behalf of male workers? Not likely. The Herald Sun ran this editorial:
The Insurance Australia Group workers will be paid double their wages in the first six weeks of their return to work...The move should be roundly applauded by the community...IAG has now thrown down the gauntlet to Australia's leading corporations to follow it down the path of progressive and sensible workplace relations.
The Herald Sun editor wants the double pay to become standard practice as a "progressive and sensible" measure.
Why? It's likely that several things are at play here. First, liberals don't think much of the motherhood role. They believe that power and autonomy come through careers and that it's therefore better for women to get back quickly into the workforce after having children. As part of this, equality is measured in terms of female workforce participation rates and lifetime earnings. And this tendency to look upon women in economic terms suits the interests of business just fine - it opens up a labour resource.
Traditionalists don't measure the good in terms of individual power and autonomy. We therefore place a higher value on the non-economic role of women as mothers within a family and we are more protective of the masculine provider/protector role that is exercised by fathers.
Paying women extra money is another step in undermining a masculine provider role. And whatever makes the male role within the family less necessary is likely to increase the instability of family life.
We ought to oppose what the IAG is doing; as a starting point, if I had a policy with either CGU or NRMA I would not be renewing it.