A new working group to manage the outcome of a landmark equal pay test case is an important step towards closing the gender gap, but in the end it still depends on a positive decision from Fair Work Australia.
Unions welcome the opportunity to be part of the new Community Sector Wages Group announced today by the Federal Government to manage the implications of the Social and Community Sector test case.
ACTU President Ged Kearney said this was a solid demonstration from the Gillard Government of its commitment to gender pay equity.
But Ms Kearney said any real moves towards equal pay still hinged on the results of the test case, which is currently being heard by the full bench of Fair Work Australia.
Unions are seeking to use the equal remuneration principles in the Fair Work Act to lift the pay of about 150,000 workers in the female-dominated SACS sector.
Workers in the sector have historically been underpaid because the worker has been undervalued compared to traditional male-dominated jobs.
Final submissions were lodged this week.
“The announcement of a national consultative group to manage the funding implications resulting from a successful case is a welcome sign of the Gillard Government’s commitment to closing the 17% gender pay gap,” Ms Kearney said.
“Unions recognise that any pay increase will have budgetary implications, as the sector relies heavily on funding from governments, and we are prepared to work through these issues in a consultative way.
“But ultimately, this case is about overcoming an injustice that treats the work performed by women as less valuable than that performed by men.
“Equal pay is a workplace right and a human right, and Fair Work Australia must remember this when considering its decision.
“A pay gap of 17% should not be tolerated in a prosperous and developed nation like Australia.”