Rare show of unity by politicians

IT’S NOT often three rival politicians can agree on anything.

But when it comes to equal pay for community workers, the Greens, Nationals and Labor candidates for Page share the same view.

Local Australian Services Union (ASU) members gathered at the Lismore Worker’s Club last night for a debate between the Federal Member for Page Janelle Saffin, Nationals candidate Kevin Hogan and Greens party candidate Jeff Johnson on the ASU’s campaign for increased pay for community sector workers.

After delivering their opening statements, all candidates put party ideologies aside to support the ASU campaign by pledging to lobby in support of the wage increase and to provide the funding for it.

“This should be fundamental for our society and it is disgraceful we are even talking about this in this day and age,” Mr Johnson said.

Mr Hogan said his party would also support the ASU campaign for imp-roved pay for community workers.

“It is a straight forward thing that anyone would agree to,” he said. “Personally, I support this, as do my political peers.”

On fears the Coalition would bring back the Howard government’s controversial WorkChoices laws, Mr Hogan said Tony Abbott’s response to him on this had been, ‘look, we philosophically had an issue with industrial relations we thought was going to work but we very loudly got the message the Australia public do not want it’.

“I think you are wasting your union fees fighting this WorkChoices thing when it is already gone.”

The ASU’s pay campaign is based on community workers being paid significantly less than their private sector counterparts, possibly because of the feminisation of the industry.

According to an ASU representative, women make up 87 per cent of the community services sector.

Janelle Saffin said if union members wanted to see the government back a wage increase they had to gain support by ‘mobilising the community’.


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