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Pledge to tackle aged care pay-rise barriers

Pledge to tackle aged care pay-rise barriers

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.

Announcing the panel in Perth on Sunday 1 May, Mr Albanese said ‘We will set up expert panels on pay equity and the care and community sector to help improve paying conditions for women in those sectors.’ A Labor Government would commit $8.4 million for the expert panels, which will comprise members from relevant fields such as gender and pay equity, anti-discrimination and the care industry.

The pledge is part of a broader commitment to reducing the gender pay gap and making gender pay equity an objective of the Fair Work Act, making it easier for the FWC ‘to order pay increases for workers in low-paid, female-dominated industries.

ANMF has long argued that Australia’s industrial relations system disadvantages the highly casualised and insecure aged care and community workforces. These workers are primarily employed by government-funded private entities, meaning they cannot bargain for better wages and conditions the way most Australian workers can.

‘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’, said ANMF Federal Secretary Annie Butler, responding to Mr Albanese’s announcement.

This means that these workers, who are predominantly female, continue to be under-valued and underpaid because they are unable 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 concluded.