A national test case launched recently to support fairer pay rates for social and community sector workers is expected to take several months.
The newly-formed Equal Pay Alliance launched a national Equal Pay Campaign in Canberra last week which includes supporting a test case to secure fairer pay rates for social and community sector workers who look after the homeless, the disabled, refugees, domestic violence victims, children at risk, the elderly and other vulnerable people in society.
Linda White, the Assistant National Secretary of the Australian Services Union (ASU), says this is difficult and demanding work, yet this female-dominated industry is one of the lowest paid in Australia because it has been historically viewed as ‘women’s work’.
The Equal Pay Alliance includes 150 organisations across business, unions and the community. The test case was officially lodged with Fair Work Australia by the Australian Services Union (ASU) on March 11th.
The case will be the first to test the new pay equity provisions of the Fair Work Act which acknowledge the right of men and women to be paid equally for work of comparative value. If successful, unions say the case will help establish an equal pay standard for other industries.
The case is set to impact the working lives of about 200,000 community workers.
The Equal Pay Alliance has called on all political parties and employers to properly value women’s work and close the 17% wage gap between men and women once and for all.
At the launch, ACTU President Sharan Burrow said the pay gap is still so big that on average Australian women have to work 63 days more a year just to earn the same income.
The Equal Pay Alliance is also calling for other measures to adopted to value women’s work and help close the pay gap, including:
- More flexibility in rostered hours and access to decent part-time jobs,
- Accessible, affordable, good quality out-of-school care and childcare,
- Improved reporting and auditing of equal pay and equal opportunity,
- Pay equity cases to value and properly fund wages for work traditionally carried out by women,
- More opportunities to build skills and participate in the workforce, especially for mothers and older women,
- Superannuation gap to be addressed.