Equal pay talk for community service workers being discussed by Caringa Enterprise worker Janet Ocholla, Shadow Minister Sophie Cotsis, Caringa Enterprises worker Sue Moss and Country Labor candidate Peter Ellem.
Equal pay talk for community service workers being discussed by Caringa Enterprise worker Janet Ocholla, Shadow Minister Sophie Cotsis, Caringa Enterprises worker Sue Moss and Country Labor candidate Peter Ellem. JoJo Newby

Higher pay rankles

A COMMUNITY sector worker on $41,000 a year in NSW could earn as much as $55,000 in Queensland - it's a sore point for many in the industry.

The announcement last week by Prime Minister Julia Gillard to provide $2 billion to bring the rest of the nation up to cane toads' benchmark was naturally welcomed with open arms by the sector but there remains a hurdle for those in NSW - the NSW O'Farrell Government - which has remained non-committal in meeting its end of the funding ratio.

Opposition spokesperson for women Sophi Cotsis said the sector employed 30,000 workers in NSW, 87% of them women.

Ms Cotsis, who was in Grafton yesterday to support Country Labor candidate for Clarence Peter Ellem, said the sector had a major problem in retaining workers who either left for other better-paid industries or headed to Queensland.

"Unfortunately, without a funding commitment from the O-Farrell-Stoner Government, Clarence and NSW community service workers could miss out on equal pay for equal work," Mr Ellem said.

"I'm calling on Chris Gulaptis to tell the people of the Clarence if he will fight the Government to get equal pay for local social and community sector workers.

"But he (Gulaptis) is refusing to meet with workers across the valley."

He said the NSW Government was trying to duck its responsibilities to workers who help with the disabled, counselled families, help the homeless and those suffering domestic violence and sexual assault.

Ms Cotsis said equal pay was particularly important to the overwhelmingly female sector if Australia was to ever reduce the gap between male and female pay rates and superannuation.

She applauded Prime Minister Gillard's announcement as

visionary and hoped the Government would follow suit.

Caringa Enterprises support worker Sue Moss said the vast majority of workers in the sector were dedicated to their jobs and loved helping people but many of them struggled to justify their work financially.

"It can be tough on families because you can tend to bring stuff home," she said. "Often clients rely on you totally.

"We do stuff that should be far better rewarded."

A former youth worker, Ms Moss said she now worked with the disabled.

Caringa CEO Janet Ocholla said she couldn't help but be sceptical about the pay rises making it into reality by next year as was hoped saying it had already been three years in the campaigning.

"I'll believe it when I see it."



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