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ACTU calls for 9 per cent gender-based pay rise

Those in feminised industries like early child education should get a bigger pay rise, the ACTU says.

Those in feminised industries like early child education should get a bigger pay rise, the ACTU says. Photo Getty

​Workers in key feminised industries should get at least a 9 per cent pay rise in the Annual Wage Review, according to the nation’s largest union.

The ACTU said the boost would be a critical step in achieving equal pay for workers in occupations historically undervalued based on gender, including care and degree-qualified work in early childhood education, education and health support, veterinary care and disability home care.

​The union’s submissions filed with the Fair Work Commission say the 9 per cent rise is based on the 5 per cent increase it is advocating across all awards supplemented by at least an additional 4 per cent in key low-paid feminised industries.

​If accepted, a full-time care worker could see their pay boosted by $90 a week – a step towards equal pay, pending a full assessment.

A similar assessment in aged care recently found workers required up to 23 per cent pay increases to achieve equity, the union said.

“Achieving equal pay for women requires systemic change and targeted pay rises in industries traditionally dominated by women and historically very low-paid,” ACTU secretary Sally McManus said.

“A 9 per cent pay increase will not only support families with cost-of-living pressures, it will also be a vital first step to properly valuing the work of working women doing critical work for our community, such as educating the next generation and caring for our loved ones.”

The ACTU is also calling for a process to provide interim increases quickly while there is a proper valuation of underpayment in retail, pharmacy, administrative services, cabin crew and legal services, among others.

This year’s Annual Wage Review is working to address equal pay in line with the federal government’s 2022 changes to the Fair Work Act to achieve gender equality.

The Fair Work Commission’s Annual Wage Review decision will affect the pay of 2.9 million minimum and award wage workers.

Research shows minimum and award wages constitute a smaller share of GDP and the total wages bill than they did last year, further reinforcing the argument that a pay increase for low-paid workers would have no negative impact on inflation.

“Equal pay and cost of living increases are good for workers and good for the economy,” McManus said.

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