Failure to Negotiate on Equal Pay Could Cost the Government More
22 June 2011 at 12:01 pm
The reluctance by the Gillard Government to negotiate with unions on a pay rise for community sector workers could end up costing the government more, Greens MP Adam Bandt has warned Parliament.
The Greens employment and workplace relations spokesperson, Bandt warned Parliament that the government risked having to pay a much larger wages bill by ignoring a direction of Fair Work Australia to negotiate on new wage rates.
Bandt told the Parliament that in the 'Equal Pay case' currently before Fair Work Australia, the tribunal has accepted that community sector workers are underpaid on the basis of gender.
He said the tribunal has also said that the relevant pay rates to which community workers should be compared are in the local government and public sectors, which are 10 to 15% higher than the original claim made by the union.
Bandt accused the government of not accepting the Tribunal's direction and putting forward its own wage proposals to the negotiations, saying it seems the Government will simply stand back and leave it up to others.
He says this 'hands off' approach could result in the Commonwealth having to pay a much higher amount – up to $2.5 billion over 4 years – than the union was willing to accept in its original claim.
Bandt said he wants to see the best deal possible for community sector workers, but if the government wants to claim the fiscal position of the Budget must be considered they cannot and should not avoid direct involvement in negotiations.
He urged the government to take the wage case seriously and get directly and actively involved in the negotiations.