Victorian Government Rejects Community “Gender” Pay Claim
1 August 2011 at 10:37 am
The Victorian Government has rejected claims that gender is largely responsible for the low wages of Victoria’s community sector workers, according to its latest submission to Fair Work Australia.
The submission by the Victorian Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, Richard Dalla-Riva says that in relation to funding and its impact in determining the actual wage rates paid in the SACS sector, the Minister rejects any suggestion that decisions about funding arrangements are determined wholly or in part by reference to gender.
In May this year, Fair Work Australia upheld a pay equity claim for community services workers but fell short of issuing an equal remuneration order, instead calling on the unions to show how much of the pay gap is caused by gender discrepancies.
The tribunal invited the various parties involved in the case to present further submissions to help it determine how much of the pay gap is caused by the gender differences between the community sector and comparable government employment, and how much is due to other factors.
The Victorian Minister Industrial relations Minister says in the government’s submission there exists little or no evidence before Fair Work Australia directed at establishing the extent to which wages are lower than they would otherwise be by reason only of gender considerations.
The Minister says it is also not possible to precisely identify how the amount of the gender related undervaluation should be calculated or to provide concrete estimates of that gender related undervaluation.
The Minister says that on the available evidence, the only safe finding open to be made by FWA is that gender has contributed to a limited degree to the gap.
The government says the unions stated during opening submissions in the landmark case that the increases sought were in the range of 18% to 35%, however vastly greater wage increases are now being sought by the unions
It says increases are now being sought in relation to some classifications of up to 79% and the impact in terms of cost and funding to the sector will be significant.
The submission asks why workers performing jobs at the lower end of the classification scale and directly engaged in the provision of "caring" work are seeking significantly lower pay increases than individuals at the higher end of the classification scale involving management and coordination duties and removed from the actual performance of "caring" work.
The Government says if the union submission is granted, Victorian SACS workers across all classifications will be being paid in excess of what is paid to the comparable classification in the Victorian public sector.
It says the result of SACS workers 'leapfrogging' their public sector counterparts raises the spectre of public sector bargaining attempting to maintain parity (or even superiority) with SACS workers' rates over time.
Further hearings before the full bench of Fair Work Australia will be held in Melbourne in early August 2011.
- The Victorian Government submission can be downloaded at http://www.fwa.gov.au/sites/remuneration/submissions/Vic_Government_Submission_29-Jul-2011.pdf.