Fair Work Australia test case on pay equity for community sector employees

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010 @ 11:48AM

During the 2010 election I was proud to sign the Australian Services Union (ASU) pay equity pledge. Part of my commitment was to give a speech in Parliament, which I gave on the 25th of October.

This commitment followed on from the federal Labor Government agreement to work with the ASU and other unions in their support of a major test case on pay equity for community sector employees under the new Fair Work system, based on principles of gender pay equity.

The Gillard government remains committed to pay equity in Australia and the Government’s submission to Fair Work Australia (FWA) makes that very clear. As a normal and necessary part of the submission the Government has drawn FWA’s attention to the potential impact on the Commonwealth’s budget should a substantial wage increase be awarded. That is why the ASU agreed to a five-year phase in of any increase awarded.

ACTU President Ged Kearney said the following about the submission on the 19th of November:

“In its submission, the Federal Government has restated its commitment to pay equity in Australia and endorsed the role of Fair Work Australia in redressing under-valuation of women’s work,”

“There are 153,000 workers in this sector, mostly women, and the Government has acknowledged that they should be paid the same as other workers performing work of equal or comparable value. Although the Commonwealth notes that any ‘significant’ wage increases will involve additional funding, the remedy the unions are seeking is not only fair but modest and affordable.

“Ultimately, this case should not be about the capacity to pay and no-one ever pretended it wasn’t going to cost money. The case is about equity and a gender pay gap that can no longer be tolerated. “The Gillard Government must make decisions when it comes to balancing the Budget – but it also has an opportunity to be remembered as a great reforming government in the Labor tradition that overcame the historical gap between men and women’s pay.”

I am confident this clarification will remove any doubt of the Federal Labor Government’s commitment to pay equity. Our position has not changed from when Labor first agreed to support the test case. The government remains committed to working through the funding implications of any wage increases.

Information on the case before Fair Work Australia and a copy of the Government’s submission are available at: www.fwa.gov.au/index.cfm?pagename=remuneration&page=introduction

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