Government Commits to Support Sector on Equal Pay
6 July 2011 at 4:19 pm
The Gillard Government has announced it will provide ‘fair and appropriate supplementation’ to help support any phased in pay increase Fair Work Australia may award in the Social and Community Sector equal pay case.
|Photo credit: Ryan Witcombe|
The Government made the commitment in its submission to Fair Work Australia as part of the equal pay case, and the Minister for Workplace Relations Senator Chris Evans says the submission will also confirm the Government’s willingness to continue participating in conciliation proceedings before Fair Work Australia.
Senator Evans says the Commonwealth will meet its responsibilities and provide fair and appropriate supplementation, in consultation with key stakeholders, taking into account the fiscal implications of any increase as well as opportunities to pursue reforms for the sector, including cutting red tape.
Minister for Community Services, Jenny Macklin says that while the Federal Government does not directly fund or employ any employees in the sector, it is one of several funding sources along with state and territory governments and service providers.
Macklin says the Government is endeavouring to identify the cost impact of the equal pay claim both for the sector and the Government.
Macklin says it is essential that federal and state governments are prepared to work together with community service providers to ensure the sustainability of the sector as any increased wages are phased in.
The announcement by the Gillard Government has been welcomed by unions and community groups, with the Australian Services Union Assistant National Secretary Linda White saying the Government should be congratulated for taking low paid community workers one step closer to equal pay.
White says this is a very significant announcement as the Federal Government is by far the largest funder of the community sector, and what they say on this issue makes a big difference as there will be less chance of parties opposed to our case threatening job losses or service cuts should pay rises be awarded.
White says now only NSW and Victorian Coalition Governments have yet to come to the party. Without doing so they cannot have any credibility on the issue of Equal Pay or with the community sector.
The Australian Council of Social Service Acting CEO Dr Tessa Boyd-Caine says the announcement is a clear indication that the Government accepts its responsibilities in funding effective and sustainable community services, including through decent wage.
Dr Boyd-Caine says the Commonwealth is taking responsibility for the services it supports by committing to fair and appropriate supplementation for higher wage costs. She says responsibility for funding decent wages is shared by those who support and fund community services in Australia.
The Health and Community Services Union joined the ASU in calling for the Victorian Baillieu Government to fully fund their share of the outcome of the case.
HACSU State Secretary Lloyd Williams says HACSU members working in the non-government sector are paid between 17% and 30% less than their colleagues in the public sector who do the same work and have not suffered the same undervaluing.
The Commonwealth's commitment will be given in its forthcoming submission to the case before Fair Work Australia. ACOSS will be contributing to the final evidence before FWA through a joint submission from the COSS network.