Equal pay decision validates claim of underpaid community workers: ACOSS

The Australian Council of Social Service welcomes Fair Work Australia’s decision today that community sector workers do not receive equal remuneration for work of equal or comparable value in comparison with state and local government employees, adding that it validates the claim of workers in this crucial sector.

“The workplace relations tribunal’s ruling that gender has been an important factor in creating the wage gap for this predominantly female workforce confirms the claim that community and social sector workers are being short changed,” said ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie.

“We congratulate Fair Work Australia for getting it right. They have taken time to hear from the sector, visited workplaces, and come to understand just how poorly paid these vital workers are. It has clearly heard that this situation cannot continue and that the capacity of the community sector to do its work depends upon funding higher wages for this important workforce.”

FWA have called for further evidence from the parties on the extent to which wages in the SACS industry are lower than they would otherwise be because of gender considerations. This evidence will be key in determining what kind of remedy FWA proposes to the problem of unequal pay for community sector workers.

“We would like to see a final ruling in line with the 2009 Queensland decision that awarded pay rises to community workers of 18-42% per cent. This is the bar if we are going to achieve wage equality in the community sector.

“We know the pay gap between community sector workers and those doing equal or comparable work is irrefutable. The tribunal today accepted this. And with 85% of the community sector workforce women, this constitutes a significant gender pay gap.

“Responsibility for this pay gap is widespread and includes the many sources of funding that go to the community sector. There’s no doubt that funding will be the critical issue, and ACOSS has been calling on the Commonwealth and state Governments to step up to the plate and assume responsibility as the primary funders of these services.

“It’s time for those funding commitments to come through from all governments and from all non-government sources of funding,” Dr Goldie said.

Media Contact: Fernando de Freitas 0419 626 155

ACOSS membership reflects over 3000 community services across Australia. In addition, over 430 employers have signed the sector statement supporting equal pay and seeking the support of all funders to ensure their employees are remunerated appropriately.

Read about ACOSS’ initial analysis of the Fair Work Australia decision in the equal remuneration case for community sector workers.