Gillard backs equal pay case

ABOUT 2000 Northern Rivers community service workers are celebrating a long-awaited industrial milestone following the Federal Government's support of the Australian Services Union's bid for equal pay in the sector.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard yesterday announced the government would join the ASU in making a submission to Fair Work Australia on resolving the equal remuneration case.

The Far North Coast hosts one of the largest contingents of community sector workers in regional Australia.

Workers in the community sector are predominantly women and are paid approximately 30% less than their public service counterparts.

Far North Coast ASU organiser Punita Boardman and delegate Naomi Worrell joined other union representatives who converged on Sydney to hear the historic decision.

Ms Gillard received a standing ovation.

"This is an important step on the road to closing the long-standing pay gap between men and women and delivering fairness to the workplace," Ms Gillard said.

"Workers in this sector have been underpaid for too long because their work was viewed as women's work; they deserve to be properly rewarded for their work."

Local ASU member Maralyn Schofield said the historic decision by the Prime Minister had champagne corks popping across the sector.

"There are still a number of hurdles to negotiate at a State level but it is a significant win for every working woman," she said.

Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick said the announcement was a historic milestone in gender equality.

Commissioner Broderick said the agreement would contribute to equal pay for more than 150,000 community sector workers across the country, particularly those working in health and caring service industries.

"From a gender equality perspective, this is significant because the vast majority of these workers are women," she said.


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