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Issue #1810      February 14, 2018

Gender pay bender

The Australian Council of Trade Unions has condemned Australia’s workplace laws as incapable of providing gender pay equity after a Fair Work Commission decision against two unions seeking equal pay for early childhood educators.

The case, brought by the United Voice union sought a pay rise for early childhood educators, who currently earn as little as $21 per hour.

The Fair Work Commission dismissed the application, which sought to use metalworking industry classifications as a basis for comparison. There is still one application from the Independent Education Union that the Commission is yet to decide on.

The ruling for early childhood educators has ramifications for working women across all industries, but especially in industries such as aged care, where the majority of the workforce are women.

Early childhood educators have walked off the job several times as part of their Big Steps campaign for equal pay, with another walkout planned for March 27.

“This decision is proof that our current laws and institutions are incapable of addressing the gender pay gap,” said ACTU secretary Sally McManus.

“This decision sets working women back 30 years in their pursuit of wage justice. Our current laws are not capable of addressing the issue. Women’s work will continue to be undervalued unless our broken rules and institutions that govern the lives of working Australians are fixed.”

Next article – Six environment stories to watch in 2018

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