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Poor pay highlighted

Fair Work Australia hears low pay claim from unions.

The serious workforce issues facing the aged care industry are in the spotlight with three separate forums highlighting the problems, Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) said today.

Fair Work Australia (FWA) has started hearing a low paid bargaining claim by unions representing aged care workers. It is also set to embark on a broader pay equity case for the social and community services sector which includes aged care. Meanwhile, the Productivity Commission is investigating the whole gamut of workforce matters including wages.

ACSA CEO Greg Mundy said that in addition to initiating the Productivity Commission inquiry, the Federal Government has been strongly supportive of pay equity.

He said minister for ageing Mark Butler’s comments today, concerning the hearing in Brisbane, properly refer to the importance of aged care professionals and the challenges involved in providing appropriate wages.

“However, the minister made no reference to funding improved wages in the event FWA approves a pay rise for low paid workers, aside from reference to the Productivity Commission inquiry,” Mundy said in a statement.

“And the Federal Government’s submission to the pay equity hearing has stepped away from unequivocal support for an equitable rate in the current climate.

“In part, the submission encourages service providers to look at mitigating costs including greater efficiencies and collective bargaining, adding that any increased funding would likely be at the expense of other government funded services.

“We can only imagine that in light of these comments and the Government’s fiscal strategy, that any recommendations from the PC inquiry concerning increased funding will draw a similar response.”

Mundy said he noted MPs are due to benefit from a pay rise in the coming months, with some offsets.

“The aged care sector is facing an up hill battle to provide care and services for older Australians with Government funding dramatically out of kilter with rising costs including wages.

“On behalf of older people who depend on care and support and our future ageing population, we urge the government to reaffirm aged care as a second term priority and acknowledge that appropriate funding is critical,” he said.

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