…The pay equity outcome is one of the reasons unions are experiencing a revival. It follows other major successes by the former Service Worker’s Union through the courts.
They include the “sleepover” case in which disability support workers who were required to give 24-hour care in residential centres were paid less than the minimum wage for sleeping over.
It also includes a victory for low-paid women working as home and community support workers who had to drive between many clients in a day but were not paid for that time.
In each of the three cases, the workers were mostly employed by private agencies but their wages were sourced from Government funding.
The combination of those three stunning victories by that union have cost the taxpayer hundreds of millions but the money has gone to low-paid workers.
That tangible success and the highly effective campaign for greater health and safety standards in the workplace, not to mention the public affection in which the late Helen Kelly was held, have combined to lift the standing of unions.
It is not surprising, then, that E Tu, the PSA and Nurses between them have had a 20 per cent increase in membership in two years.
The unions played an important role in the tripartite Working Group (union, employers and Government officials) that came up with the pay-equity principles after the Bartlett win. It has been an exemplary process. …