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News Media Releases WA unions welcome major win for low paid Community and Social workers
WA unions welcome major win for low paid Community and Social workers
Monday, 16 May 2011 15:16

UnionsWA has welcomed today’s Fair Work Australia (FWA) ruling in support of the Australian Services Union’s case equal pay case for low paid workers in the Social and Community Services Sectors. A FWA full bench has ruled in favour of making an equal remuneration order to rectify a gender-based disparity between the pay of social and community services workers and employees in state and local government. WA unions say the Barnett Government must now act in line with the ruling and allocate additional money for wages in the SACS sector in Thursday’s state budget.

The Social and Community Services (SACS) sector is overwhelmingly dominated by female employees and the fact that the work has been seen as “women’s work” has led to workers in the sector being grossly underpaid, particularly in comparison with their counterparts in the public sector. SACS workers frequently receive up to $30,000 less than people performing similar roles in the public sector.

UnionsWA Secretary Simone McGurk says the ruling is an important acknowledgement of the gender pay gap and of the under-valuing of the work undertaken by people in this sector. “Workers in the community sector have put up with poor pay for far too long because they are all too aware of the importance of the work they do for the community. Their good nature has been taken advantage of by successive state and federal governments for far too long and we welcome this long overdue ruling.”

While welcoming the FWA announcement, Ms McGurk has said that the lack of support from the Barnett State Government for these workers has been both conspicuous and disappointing. “Despite Mr Barnett’s preference to outsource more and more of WA’s public services to the non-profit SACS sector, he has repeatedly refused to address the gross under payment of workers in this sector by allocating more money for fair wages. Today’s announcement shows just how out of touch the Premier is on the issue of fair and equal pay.”

Despite repeated requests by SACS workers and their unions that the Barnett Government agree to support the FWA case, the Premier has continually refused to support fair and equal pay for workers in this sector.

“If this Government wants to palm off its responsibility for service provision to the already over-worked non-profit sector, the least it can do is provide adequate funding that is tied to wages. Any failure to do this will demonstrate that, despite its protestations to the contrary, the Barnett government is handing over public services to the non-profit sector purely as a cost-saving measure and taking advantage of the low paid workers in this sector in the process,” said Ms McGurk.

Unions are demanding that any announcement of extra funding for the non-profit sector in Thursday’s budget provides for an adequate percentage of that funding to be quarantined for fair wage increases in line with today’s FWA announcement.

For more information contact: Madeleine Holme, Campaigns and Communications Officer, UnionsWA 0417 060 360


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