Pay Decision A ‘Disturbing Outcome’ - Chamber of Commerce
1 February 2012 at 4:31 pm
The majority decision handed down by Fair Work Australia in the equal remuneration case is a disturbing outcome that must be quarantined, says the Australian Chamber of Commerce
Fair Work Australia found in favour of the community sector equal pay claim delivering pay rises of between 19% and 41%.
The 4-1 Full Bench judgement on the application for an equal remuneration order in the social and community services industry was handed down in Melbourne and gives equal remuneration pay rises to be phased in over 8 years.
The ACCI says it is concerned about the cost impact this ruling will have, not only on government revenues, but on the myriad of small and medium enterprises in the community services sector.
It says it is seriously concerned about the ability of these enterprises to maintain services at current levels with the burden of this new cost.
“Some of these enterprises receive government funding, but many do not,” said ACCI Workplace Policy Director David Gregory.
“Even more alarming is the concern that the unions may try to use this decision as some sort of precedent for similar claims in female dominated sectors,” Gregory said.
“It is vital that this decision is quarantined.In its decision, the Tribunal appears to have been unduly influenced by the agreement of some government funded employers to the claims, and by the commitment of the Australian Government, in particular, to fund its share of the cost, rather than by any proper comparison between male and female employees performing work of equal or comparable value.”
He says the ACCI supports gender equity, equal opportunity and equal pay for work of equal or comparable value. ACCI also acknowledges the value of the work performed by employees in the social and community services sector.
However, he says a claim based on the equal remuneration provisions must still be rigorously determined on the appropriate statutory test and not diverted by other considerations.
Gregory says that in particular, ACCI does not accept the use of public sector comparisons as the basis of private sector pay equity claims.
“There are inevitably a range of factors, other than gender, that impact on pay rates, especially in the public sector.
“Many of ACCI’s concerns about the outcome of this case are contained in the dissenting decision of Vice President Watson."
ACCI says it will strenuously oppose any attempts by unions in the future to use the outcome of this case as the basis of claims elsewhere.
View our extensive and ongoing coverage of the equal pay campaign here.
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