Monday, June 7, 2010

Equal Pay for Equal Work Rally 10 June 2010

RALLY: Equal work - Equal Pay
Community Workers Make a Difference

National Day of Action
11am, Thursday 10 June 2010

Solidarity Park, opposite Parliament House

Organised by the Australian Services Union

Sausage Sizzle – Gold Coin Donation

Help ‘bind’ the Parliament to funding our claim. We will wrap the front of Parliament House with our pay equity material!

Register you interest in attending by emailing or by phone on (08) 9427 7777

Fighting for Equal Pay and justice in 21st century Australia

Sanna Andrew Socialist Alliance candidate for Fremantle Sanna Andrew is the Socialist Alliance candidate for Fremantle, Western Australia, in the coming federal elections.

She joined the Socialist Alliance in 2007. She is a qualified social worker and has worked in community-based mental health service provision for more than a decade.

Andrew is also an active member of the Australian Services Union (ASU) and sits on the executive council as a representative of the Social and Community Services Sector division.

* * *

I have been actively involved in the Pay Equity campaign launched by the ASU, agitating for increased wages in the social and community services in WA since 2007.

The inadequate pay structure of this sector is based partly on the gender imbalance. Work traditionally considered "women's work" is still undervalued in 21st century Australia.

This is made worse when the government privatises service provision through the non-government sector, as the WA state government is systematically doing now.

Pushing for greater "efficiencies" by shifting from public sector to non-government provision of services, translates into lower wages for many workers, including those in my area of work.

Community service sector workers are more often than not tertiary qualified. Yet they are paid anywhere up to 52% less than workers with similar qualifications in similar roles in the government sector.

Community service sector workers employ high levels of skill and training to deal with the most vulnerable and marginalised members of our community. Their skill and dedication should be recognised. It should not be considered voluntary or charitable work, but rather essential building blocks for developing socially inclusive and productive communities.

Vulnerable community members also deserve services that are appropriately resourced and professionally staffed and supported: it should be a right of citizenship, not paternalistic "charity" for the "less fortunate".

Indeed, it is the very structure of our society, under capitalism, that creates the conditions that lead specific groups of people within society to become "vulnerable" and "less fortunate".

I have been an active member of the Aboriginal Rights Coalition since its inception in 2007. It was formed in response to the racist laws imposed on Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory under the NT intervention.

I am deeply committed to this campaign because Australia will never become a democratic country as long as we ignore our Aboriginal brothers and sisters or treat them as second class citizens.

As long as our state and federal governments continue with laws that are racist, and won’t even consider a human rights charter, nor true and enduring land rights, treaty or sovereignty, they perpetuate the racist legacy of the colonial imperialism that this country, in its current guise, was founded on.

We need true dialogue, not top-down responses. We need community-initiated responses to issues that have, under colonial imposition, become entrenched.

Why are we spending hundreds of millions of dollars administering racist laws — in the form of the NT intervention — when it would cost less to properly resource communities to address the causes and consequences of poverty imposed by colonialism and capitalism?

As a community mental health worker, I am privy to the extreme results of government policy and inaction, lack of resourcing and subsequent alienation that some of our most vulnerable community members experience.

I see lack of public housing and lack of affordability in private housing, lack of accessible and appropriate services and programs, lack of employment and vocational/educational policies and overstretched health service provision that is the cornerstone of mental health services in Australia.

Increasingly, service provision is being "privatised", which means there is less money spent either on the services provided and on the wages of the highly skilled practitioners that service these areas.

This also limits accountability, as the government can "wash its hands" because it only funds the service and therefore claims it cannot be responsible for what happens at the service-delivery level.

What we also need is secure housing policies that lead to resources being pumped into the delivery of actual houses at the coalface. We need a robust public housing sector that services all Australians and not just a stop-gap safety net measure.

Housing should be a right and not a privilege.