The Australian Services Union (ASU) is aiming to increase the wages of almost 250,000 mostly female community sector workers across the country, particularly those working in caring and community industries. ASU will argue that low wages in a feminised industry like the community sector be brought into line with pay rates for work of equal or comparable value in other, often male dominated, industries.
The test case is supported by the Equal Pay Alliance as part of a national equal pay campaign. The Alliance comprises over 150 representatives from business, unions and government, and includes the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) as well as the Australian Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Elizabeth Broderick.
Commenting on the national test case on 12 March 2010, Commissioner Broderick said, “Today is a particularly important day because it is the first time that an application to test the provisions of the new Fair Work Act will be lodged with Fair Work Australia.”
The test case will potentially impact a variety of workers in the community sector including those working in disability; aged care; community legal centres; domestic violence services and sexual assault workers.
“Pay inequity faced by people who work in the provision of social and community services has been a focal point since my appointment as Sex Discrimination Commissioner – I see these services being vastly undervalued in our society. The work of those in the social and community sector touches the lives of all of us and is vital to the well-being of our country. It also requires great skill and needs to be appropriately paid,” said Ms Broderick
“A positive outcome in this test case will be a triumph for workers in this area, and will have important future implications. Australia is not alone in its challenge to close the gender gap in pay. We need to use all the tools available to us to ensure that this occurs. I warmly welcome the filing of the ASU case today.”
Source: Australian Human Rights Commission