After countless years of fighting for equality the social and community sector have received their first big win.
In a historic address to social and community sector workers Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced that the Australian Government will join with the Australian Services Union (ASU) to make a joint submission to Fair Work Australia for equal remuneration.
Using a landmark case in Queensland in 2009 as precedence, the ASU and Federal government will argue for comparable pay rates as awarded by the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission.
At the moment community sector workers are among the lowest paid workers in Australia, with the ASU and the federal government having reached an agreement this means pay would go up by 17-35 per cent.
“Together we will argue for rates of pay that fairly and properly value social and community sector work,” Ms Gillard said. “
Ms Gillard said the pay rises would be phased in over six years, starting on December 1 next year, with the help of $2 billion in federal funding.
The federal government will seek the assistance of the states to help meet the costs of the pay rise over the phase-in period.
Federal Lindsay MP David Bradbury hosted a morning tea on Friday to publicly honour the significant announcement but said the only thing standing in the way was the state government.
“The NSW government is yet to commit to the cause and this is of great concern,” he said. “Now is a really important stage to ensure the sector remains strong and healthy.”
Maree McDermott of Nepean Community and Neighbourhood Services holds this campaign close to her heart. She has personally been an ambassador for equal pay for over a decade and has worked in the industry for 25 years. Ms McDermott was also chosen to introduce the Prime Minister for her significant address.
“I have seen countless young workers leave the industry because they could not possibly live off the income,” she said.
“This historic announcement is a long time coming and “thank-you” is not a big enough word.”