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Pay decision a win for women:

Fair Work Australia's decision on equal pay for community sector workers is a step forward for all Australian women, the Australian Services Union (ASU) says.
Date: February 01 2012
Tags: women, work,
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Some 150,000 community sector workers, mostly women, have been awarded a pay rise by the industrial umpire in a landmark test case.

"We said we wanted to put a dent on the 18 per cent gender pay gap between men and women in Australia," ASU NSW and ACT branch secretary Sally McManus told reporters in Sydney today.

"It's too big and it's gone on too long.

"We hope that this decision today is a step forward not just for our members but for all women in Australia."

It was a generation since Australian women had won an equal pay case, Ms McManus said.

"It's not been an easy road. We've danced for equal pay. We've rallied for equal pay. We've lobbied our local members for equal pay.

"We've been campaigning for probably 30 years in the community sector for fair wages.

"This is a big day after 30 years' struggle."

It was now time for community sector employers and all state and territory governments to support the decision, Ms McManus said.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced in November the federal government would support the ASU's case for equal pay.

"We've not got that commitment yet from the NSW government and (they are) obviously the people we need to talk to now," Ms McManus said.

"Hopefully (NSW Premier) Barry O'Farrell will come on board.

"If he doesn't come on board, services will be threatened at the end of the year, but that's plenty of time for him to work out where he stands."

Ms McManus said the decision to phase-in the pay increases over eight years was disappointing but an acceptable trade-off.

"The six year phase-in was already a compromise for us," she said.

"But we've been struggling for 30 years. To wait for eight years and have fair wages - I think that's something that we can live with.

"We're disappointed but we accept the decision of Fair Work Australia."

Dr Cassandra Goldie, CEO of ACOSS, the peak body for Australia's community and social services sector, said workers had waited far too long for the increases.

"The workers in the sector have led a life of work providing important services to the community and have themselves faced a life experiencing poverty," Dr Goldie told reporters in Sydney.

She reiterated the call for state governments to come together and support the decision.

"We welcome the decision. We now want to make sure that the funding is made available from governments around the country to ensure implementation."

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