The Coalition’s attempt to water down measures designed to improve women’s equity at work, by seeking to amend the government’s Equality Opportunity for Women at Work bill, is a worrying omen of things to come for women under an Abbott government, says Greens spokesperson for women Senator Lee Rhiannon (“Flexibility at work is new norm under equality laws,” SMH p 7 today : http://tinyurl.com/9m6jh4cy). Senator Rhiannon will speak to the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Amendment Bill, which the Greens support, due to be debated in the Senate this week. “This attempt by the Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Women Michaelia Cash to dumb down the reforms suggests the Coalition cares more for business than women,” Senator Rhiannon said. “The Coalition’s amendments would strike out the proposal for the Minister to set minimum standards for gender equality indicators that employers must work to meet and improve upon. “The amendments would also allow the new Workplace Gender Equality Agency to waive a company’s public reporting requirements. “The Greens have a watching brief on how the Coalition’s approaches women’s issues, from abortion to foreign aid for family planning. “Any attempts by Mr Abbott and his MPs to wind back rights will rightly anger Australian women and be opposed by the Greens. “The gap is not yet closed between men and women’s pay, with women on average earning $250.70 per week less than men. “In business ASX 200 listed company boards are comprised of only 14.4% women, with 58 companies having no female representation at all. “The Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Amendment Bill is a step forward for women, particularly when it comes to flexible work arrangements and pay equity. “The previous wet lettuce penalty of only naming and shaming companies has been built upon. The government will now be able to disqualify non-complying companies from being awarded government contracts, grants or industry assistance. “The government’s failure to widen the net to capture small business, which represents some 4.8 million Australian employees and nearly half of private sector employment, is disappointing. “A 2009 House of Representatives Committee report Making it Fair recommended that small business be required to disclose what their female staff earn relative to male employees,” Senator Rhiannon said.