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Fair Work decision demands Government response

Media Release
Rachel Siewert 6 May 2011

The decision by Fair Work Australia to allow United Voice to bargain on behalf of low-paid aged care workers is an important step in tackling the wages gap, but unless Government commits to fully funding the increase, better wages may come at the cost of job losses and reduced services, Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said today.

“It is high time that workers in this sector started receiving an appropriate level of pay for the important work that they do caring for older Australians,” said Senator Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson for Health  & Ageing.

“However it is also absolutely crucial that we ensure that the quality and level of the care provided is maintained. This can only happen if the cost of wage increases is matched by an increase in commonwealth funding for aged and community care services,” said Senator Siewert.

The decision has also highlighted problems with the Fair Work Act, which unfairly excludes workers who are already the subject to enterprise agreements from potentially sharing in the pay increases the bargaining will deliver.

“The Greens attempted to amend the Fair Work Act in the Senate to avoid precisely this problem occurring, however our efforts were blocked by the Government – with some low-paid workers now set to pay the price,” Senator Siewert said.

“We welcome the calls by the Union (United Voice) for the Government to review and amend this legislation, and we will be happy to put our amendments before the Parliament a second time,” concluded Senator Siewert.

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