As we mark Equal Pay Day this Friday, Queensland Council of Social Service (QCOSS) is calling on the federal government to commit to extending vital funding that ensures workers in the community sector receive fair pay for their work.
QCOSS CEO Aimee McVeigh says, “It’s never been clearer that our society is dependent on the crucial supports our sector workers provide for people experiencing vulnerability – services like housing, domestic violence prevention, and disability support.
“Less funding will almost certainly result in staff cuts and reductions in service if government does not act.
“The federal government’s own Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) has confirmed the gender pay gap in Queensland for 2020 is 15.8 per cent – 2 per cent higher than the national average. We know the vast majority of community sector workers – over 80 per cent – are women.
“This Equal Pay Day, the federal government should commit to continuing to provide Equal Remuneration Order (ERO) Supplementation funding, which was established almost a decade ago to provide fair pay in the community service sector.”
Since February 2020, Queensland has seen unemployment rise by 3.4 per cent to 8.4 per cent among women – the highest rate in nearly nineteen years.
There’s also been a concerning increase in the number of Queensland women leaving the workforce altogether, suggesting that job opportunities are scarce.
“These dire unemployment figures for women in Queensland will only increase without a commitment from the federal government to renew their ERO Supplementation funding,” says Ms McVeigh.
“The funding results in jobs for women and services for people who need them the most. It is the right time to commit to ongoing ERO funding.”
BACKGROUND: What is ERO?
In 2012, the Fair Work Commission made a landmark decision that addresses the gendered undervaluation of work performed in much of the community services sector – the Equal Remuneration Order (ERO).
As a result, wages increased by up to 45 per cent over eight years, and most governments across Australia, including the federal government, provided additional funding to ensure that community sector organisations could address the gender based inequality in wages paid to workers in our sector, and maintain essential services to communities.
This supplemental funding is due to run out in June 2021. QCOSS wants to see the federal government permanently increase the base rate of grants and funding for organisations where the ERO applies.