Eyes Now on States & Territories to Fund Historic Equal Pay Decision
Thursday, 2nd February 2012 at 12:03 pm
State and Territory Governments have been urged to commit to funding the community sector pay rises awarded in yesterday’s historic Fair Work Australia decision.
UnitingCare Australia’s National Director Lin Hatfield Dodds says the Federal Government has shown real leadership on this issue by agreeing to fund its share of the agreement but we need a similar commitment from the States and Territories.
“Funding this important claim must not come at the expense of vital social services,” she said.
“The reality is that if there is no commitment from relevant parties to fund the agreement, agencies will have no choice but to cut services and rationalise staff.
“People who work in community services are highly valued by the people they care for, by families, communities and by their employers.
“We have been working with the Federal Government’s Working Group to ensure the pay rise can be delivered without cutting vital social services.
“We will continue to work with all stakeholders on this issue to ensure those increases are adequately and equitably funded so vulnerable and disadvantaged Australians get access to the services they need.”
The Federal Government has committed $2 billion to assist in funding the pay increases of between 19% and 41% over the next 8 years.
Some 150,000 workers are expected to benefit as a result of Fair Work Australia’s historic pay equity decision announced yesterday.
120,000 of these Social and Community Services sector workers are women – working in jobs often described as “caring” jobs, including working with people with disabilities, counselling families in crisis, running homeless shelters and working with victims of domestic violence or sexual assault.
Prime Minister Gillard says it is now essential that all State and Territory governments, as significant funders like the Commonwealth, also commit to funding their share to ensure the continued sustainability of the sector.
Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick says it will be important for all Federal, State and Territory governments to make adequate funding available to ensure that the decision can be implemented without job losses or reduction of services.
“This case was the country’s first equal pay test case under the new legislation. It demonstrates the value of an equal remuneration order under the Fair Work Act in ensuring that appropriate provisions are made for equal pay across sectors where there is gender pay inequality,” Commissioner Broderick said.
She also said: “importantly, the decision will also help the social and community services sector attract and keep qualified, valuable employees”.
The NSW Government, which originally did not support the pay claim, has welcomed the FWA decision saying it values the work of those in the social and community services sector and their contribution to NSW and it will pay its fair share of any order that is made.
NSW says it is taking advice with regard to the decision handed down to and it is evaluating the implications for the State's Budget position.
The NSW Government also called on the Commonwealth Government to indicate precisely what proportion of its funding commitment will be applied to NSW.
The Victorian Coalition Government in a statement said that the decision has major financial and service provision implications for Victoria, which the Victorian Government will carefully consider.
The Government says it does support the principle of equal pay for work of equal or comparable value and it has already made a specific financial commitment in support of this of $200 million over four years.
However, it says it is vital the Commonwealth Government guarantee to provide a substantial and ongoing financial commitment to help meet the very heavy costs imposed on state governments and non-government organisations as a result of the Commonwealth's role in this case.