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Historic pay equity case for carers

CTU Media Release

25 June 2013

Historic pay equity case for carers

This week marks a historic legal case for thousands of low-paid women workers says Helen Kelly, CTU President as the case for pay equity enters its second day in the Employment Court today.

“Kristine Bartlett has worked as a caregiver for 20 years. She, like thousands of other carers is earning close to the minimum wage and this case will test whether her pay rate of $14.32 an hour is considered equal pay under the Equal Pay Act 1972.”

“Caregiving is hard physical and emotional work and work that society expects extremely high standards from, yet caregivers’ wages are still low and on average about $10.00 below the average hourly wage rate.  92 percent of the caregiver workforce are women. The low pay rates and poor employment conditions in the sector are directly related to this work still being seen as ‘women’s work’.  This is blatant and continued undervaluing and underpayment of the hard work these women do every day to care for our loved ones.”

“We are supporting the SFWU and Kristine in this case. The Act provides a legal requirement for equal pay for work of equal value. The Equal Pay Act is designed to ensure both equal pay between men and women doing the same work, and, as this case will argue, that female-dominated occupations, like caregiving, should not be paid less than what a male worker would be paid for the same skills, responsibility, service and degree of effort if that gender segmentation did not exist.”

“Carers undertake complex and demanding tasks for residents and patients, this is work that requires a high level of skill, emotion and physical labour. It is now up to the court to decide if it thinks we would be seeing such persistently low wages if caregiving was a male dominated occupation,” said Helen Kelly.


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