Australia’s national female soccer (football) team, the Matildas, has boycotted a tour to the US over ongoing pay disputes. While Football Federation Australia no doubt enjoyed seeing Kyah Simon put the ball in the back of the net 3 times during the last World Cup, this is an unwelcome strike (zing! No this is serious). The public debate over the gender pay gap continues and central to it is the Matildas’ industrial dispute.
Negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement between the Professional Footballers Association (representing the Matildas) and FFA have stalled and the Matildas have gone two months with no pay cheque. Key to the dispute is the meagre remuneration the Matildas receive which is only highlighted by how much more the Socceroos get – try $500 versus $6500 for a standard international or $1,250 versus $11,500 for a tournament semi final. For perspective, that’s worse than the goal ratio between Brazil and Germany in the Semi-Final of the men’s 2014 World Cup (had to get it in there somewhere).
Now, back to the meagreness. Matildas players reportedly earn a minimum base salary of $21,000 (below the minimum full time wage of $656.90 per week). The FFA calls that remuneration for part time work but reports from the PFA indicate the players are performing a full time role. Issue? Yes. We haven’t seen it yet but that disagreement could turn itself into an underpayment claim and another headache for the FFA.
And that’s not the only disagreement, as the FFA recently knocked back the PFA’s proposal for a paid maternity leave scheme which, among other things, would have had the FFA covering the cost of the children’s or carers’ costs during team camps. Contrast that with the fact that Australia’s other champion female sports team, the Diamonds, receive those benefits and it starts to look like an own goal for the FFA (had to get it in there somewhere).
The FFA, like all employers, is under no obligation to provide a paid maternity leave scheme or to pay the players other than in compliance with the minimum wage or an applicable modern award or enterprise agreement. But the players have had their say and the FFA will have a fight on its hands if it wants to keep its business afloat.