A statement to Federal Parliament from Stephen Jones MP, congratulating community sector workers on the ruling of Fair Work Australia on the Equal Pay Test case.
Main Committee - Constituency Statements
Equal Pay decision - Wed 25 May 2011, 09:39:
Mr Stephen Jones (Throsby):
THE CAMPAIGN of community sector workers for equal pay is close to my heart.
Led by the Australian Services Union, these workers recently won an important victory before Fair Work Australia.
While the credit for that victory lies entirely with the union and their members, it was made possible by our Fair Work Act.
It’s the sort of victory that could never have happened under the dog-eat-dog system of Work Choices that the Coalition still believes in.
The independent umpire has recently ruled that a gender pay gap exists in the community services sector, where women make up a large majority of the workforce.
It’s an important milestone in a campaign I have supported since before my election to Parliament.
My admiration for our community sector workers is born of my own experience.
One of my first jobs was working in the community sector helping kids with profound disabilities.
I spent many years working as a community sector worker.
My respect for the community sector and those that work in it, has not diminished in the years that have passed. Quite the opposite.
There are many people in my electorate of Throsby who live on very low incomes.
Many were born into poverty and their lives have always been very hard, with opportunities difficult to come by.
The Leader of the Opposition had a lot to say recently about certain budget measures and class war.
But those opposite would not last long arguing the plight of the $150,000 dollar a year families with the residents of the Southern Illawarra, I can tell you.
An average salary for a community sector worker with years of experience is less than $45,000 a year.
Members opposite might do well to imagine the cost of living pressures you’d feel on those sort of wages.
No wonder many experienced community workers are leaving the sector in droves.
We cannot afford for this to continue and I do not know what we would do without these wonderful workers.
Community workers do the most difficult work of all by attempting to mend broken lives.
They show the trust, they share the love and they keep the faith.
These workers are the glue that holds our community together and deserve our highest esteem for their labours.
The only thing worse than taking their dedication and compassion for granted is using these noble qualities to justify their unfair wages.
Over the next few months the unions, employers and all levels of Government will provide further information to Fair Work Australia to assist in determining appropriate levels of wages.
And the practical commitment of all players, including those in this place, to the principle of pay equity will truly be tested.