Hanging ‘Equal Pay’ decorations on their Equal Pay Wish List Christmas Tree are (from left) Angela Pollard, from the Northern Rivers Legal Centre, Maralyn Schofield, from the Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service, and Australian Services Union representative and community housing worker Naomi Worrall.
Hanging ‘Equal Pay’ decorations on their Equal Pay Wish List Christmas Tree are (from left) Angela Pollard, from the Northern Rivers Legal Centre, Maralyn Schofield, from the Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service, and Australian Services Union representative and community housing worker Naomi Worrall. Jacklyn Wagner

Workers call for equal pay support

NORTHERN Rivers community service workers are calling for public support in their push for equal pay at a Lismore rally today.

Federal Page MP Janelle Saffin and Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell will speak in support of the landmark claim.

An estimated 2000 people are employed in the sector on the Northern Rivers and Australian Services Union (ASU) representative Naomi Worrall said the test case could benefit all workers.

“The rally is open to anyone in the community who supports equal pay for women – our clients, co-workers or the general public – you don't have to be in a union to join in,” she said.

The union is seeking a 50 per cent pay rise for the social and community sector workers who are 85pc women and get paid far less than their public service counterparts.

With an ageing population and continual outsourcing of work from government departments attempting to cut expenses, it is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the country.

The ASU had initially threatened to strike on December 15, after the Federal Government's submission to the Fair Pay Commission argued that a pay increase would affect the budget bottom line.

ASU NSW branch secretary Sally McManus called on the NSW Government and employer groups to join the Federal Government in supporting the equal pay test case, saying it was time for all parties to come to the table and ensure the work of community service workers was given the value it deserves.

“This is a good day for community workers because we have a Prime Minister who supports them and is prepared to value the work they do accordingly,” she said.

Ms McManus said while it was great to see support from the Federal Government, they were yet to receive it of the State Government.

“This is a sector dominated by women ... denying (it) a wage increase is effectively denying women access to equal pay,” she said.

“We are also up against groups such as Employers First, who continue to argue that a wage increase is unnecessary for the sector.

“We now need to know where the Premier sits on this issue. She needs to decide whether she will support the attitude of some employer groups, or support community workers and the invaluable role they play in society.”

The rally starts on the corner of Magellan and Carrington streets at midday.


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