Thursday, 5 November 2009

Pay equity test case extremely important

The Australian Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Elizabeth Broderick, today welcomed the Australian Government’s agreement with the Australian Services Union, which represents social and community services workers, to support the first federal test case on pay equity for community sector employees under the new Fair Work system.

“The caring and community industries are traditionally low paid occupations and they are also highly feminised, so this action is to be loudly applauded,” said Commissioner Broderick. “If it succeeds, it will be a major step forward for the women who carry out this incredibly important work, which provides such critical support to our society as a whole.”

Around two hundred thousand women who work in homeless and domestic violence shelters, aged care and other community services may win a 30 per cent pay rise under this major gender equity test case.

“This is an issue of pay equity between the sexes, of paying men and women equally for work of comparable value - it is also about ending the penalty of low pay that women have always suffered simply because they choose to work in providing care,” Commissioner Broderick said.

Commissioner Broderick said that the pay equity issues faced by people, largely women, who work in the provision of care has been one of her focal points in discussing and addressing sex discrimination issues since she was appointed Commissioner.

“Caring work, whether paid or unpaid, is something that is vastly undervalued in our society,” said Ms Broderick. “So a positive outcome here would not only be a triumph for pay equity, but would also provide valuable reinforcement to care workers by trumpeting the value of the work they do for the community as a whole.”

Media contact: Brinsley Marlay 02 9284 9656 or 0430 366 529