It has usually been argued that the failure of industrial employers in normal times to substitute women’s for men’s labour in cases in which, at the prevailing relative rates of wages, it would apparently pay them to do so, is due to conventions and pressures of various kinds. It has, however, also been suggested that it is due to a limitation in the number of women available for industrial employment, coupled with a superiority of bargaining power on the part of employers, which prevents the women from obtaining the higher wages which, if competition were perfectly free, they would in these conditions be able to secure. Which of these two explanations (if either) do you favour?
If you incline towards the former, would you kindly comment on the following passage from a memorandum which is before the Commission ? ‘Now on the one hand the raising of the women’s wage will lessen the inducement to employers to ignore or override these conventions and pressures; “the most powerful lever for increasing the opportunities of women is taken away if they are not allowed to do the work cheaper”.
Would you be good enough to make plain the bearing of any general analysis which you submit on the particular case of the public educational services, assuming as the basis of your argument: (i) that the salaries of women teachers are broadly speaking 80 per cent of those of men teachers; (ii) that the standards of training and work demanded from the two sexes are the same; (iii) that it is regarded as a matter of public policy to preserve something like the pre-war balance of numbers, viz. approximately 1 man and 2 women, in the profession? You will, of course, recognise that, in asking you to make these assumptions, the Commission are not to be understood to be themselves expressing any view whatsoever on matters of educational policy, which would not be within their province. It is, however, essential to their proper comprehension of the argument that it should rest on some agreed hypothesis.
KeywordsCollective Bargaining Imperfect Competition Social Purpose Equal Result Royal Commission
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