The country’s largest union, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF), welcomes an election pledge by Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese to establish an expert panel in the Fair Work Commission (FWC) specifically for low-paid care workers, saying it will give them equal access to improved wages and conditions.
The ANMF has long-argued that Australia’s industrial relations (IR) system disadvantages the highly-casualised and insecure aged care and community workforce, which can’t bargain for better wages and conditions, given their employers are mostly government-funded entities.
ANMF Federal Secretary, Annie Butler, said today: “While most Australian workers can negotiate with their employers, ANMF members working in the care and community sectors simply don’t have that bargaining power.
“Unlike other sectors where negotiations take place directly with the ‘economic employer’, the Government isn’t compelled to be involved in negotiations for wages and conditions with workers in the sectors it funds, like aged care and disability care.
“It means that these workers, pre-dominantly female, continue to be under-valued and underpaid, because they don’t have the ability to bargain with the government entities that control the funding available for their wages, particularly in the aged care sector.
“Mr Albanese’s pledge to establish a specific expert panel in the FWC dealing with the care sector, would finally recognise and address the lack of equal access these workers have to negotiating fair wages and conditions, giving them parity with all other workers in Australia.”
Ms Butler said the ANMF also welcomes Mr Albanese’s announcement that an ALP Government would make gender pay equity as an object of the Fair Work Act, making it easier for the FWC ‘to order pay increases for workers in low-paid, female-dominated industries’.