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PM Defends Pay Equity Stance


Tuesday, 23rd November 2010 at 5:55 pm
Lina Caneva, Editor
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has issued a personal statement in an attempt to clear the air on the issue of the Fair Work Australia case for a wage rise for social and community sector workers.


Tuesday, 23rd November 2010
at 5:55 pm
Lina Caneva, Editor


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PM Defends Pay Equity Stance
Tuesday, 23rd November 2010 at 5:55 pm

After the Federal Government last week told Fair Work Australia that a wage rise for social and community sector workers would mean cuts to other services, Prime Minister Julia Gillard has issued a personal statement in an attempt to clear the air on the issue.

In the statement, Gillard argues that the Government’s submission to FWA – which warned of the potential budget impact and adverse affects on the delivery of services that a wage raise would cause – does not undermine the Government’s support for pay equity. 

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Gillard says she knows first hand that the work of people in the services and community sector is tough and sometimes undervalued as her mother worked in a Salvation Army aged care home.  It was in this home that a young Gillard says she had her first job.

 

The Prime Minister has been widely criticised by industrial relations groups and Not for Profit service organisations for failing to honour a commitment made to them in the lead up to the August federal election. 

 

Last week, the Not for Profit sector reacted angrily to the Federal Government’s submission to Fair Work Australia (FWA) in relation to the Australian Services Union’s Equal Remuneration Wage case for predominantly the female social and community service (SACS) workers.

 

In their 123 page submission to the Fair Work Commission, the Government warns that the potential cost to the Commonwealth of significant wage increases in the SACS sector could be considerable. It says if any additional Government funding is provided, it would likely come at the expense of other Government funded services.

 

The Government argues that increasing wages to the SACS sector will impose greater pressure on organisations delivering SACS services which will have an effect on service delivery standards in the sector.

 

Greens MP and workplace relations spokesperson Adam Bandt has expressed disappointment at the Prime Minister's response in Question Time to his question on equal pay for women.

Bandt said it's unfair to expect low-paid women workers to shoulder the burden of the government's self-imposed timeline of getting the Budget back into surplus.

Bandt said that its submission to the tribunal and in the Prime Minister's answer again today, the government is wavering in its support for equal pay by asking Fair Work Australia to make its decision about equality under fear of other services being cut.

The Greens have given notice of a motion calling on the government to recommit to paying for wages increases necessary to achieve pay equity in the social and community services sector.

The Australian Services Union wants pay rises of between 14 and 50 per cent for the 200,000 strong workforce, of which 87% are female. 

 

ASU official Sally McManus told ABC Radio their members are fuming over the decision.  She said  there’s fury, absolute fury because workers in my union and elsewhere too, when we went to the election, expected that Labor would support equal pay.

 

It has been reported the ASU are threatening strike action on December 15 with 3 other unions already pledging their support. 

The Greens have given notice of a motion calling on the government to recommit to paying for wages increases necessary to achieve pay equity in the social and community services sector.

The Australian Government submission: http://www.fwa.gov.au/sites/remuneration/submissions/AustGovt_Submission.pdf


Lina Caneva  |  Editor |  @ProBonoNews

Lina Caneva has been a journalist for more than 35 years, and Editor of Pro Bono Australia News since it was founded in 2000.

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