About Social and Community Services
The Australian Services Union represents workers in the ‘not for profit’ community sector. Our aim is to protect, promote and improve the working conditions and entitlements of our members. We do this by assisting you and your co workers deal with issues as they arise at your workplace – either individually or as a group - as well as by campaigning to improve the conditions for workers across the sector generally. We also provide workplace information, services and individual support to our members working in the ‘not for profit’ community sector.
Our members work in agencies all over Victoria. They work in many different areas - housing and tenancy, youth, child and family services, community and mental health, advocacy, community legal centres, neighbourhood houses and community centres, ethnic communities, crisis support, women’s specific services, indigenous services, job networks, home and community care. They work for many different agencies and in many different programs. They have many different job titles.
The thing that they share is a commitment to providing services that are central in addressing disadvantage in our community by acting as a protection against the worst effects of poverty, social exclusion, violence and inequality.
Our union is resourced solely by the contributions of our members. So joining the union helps us to continue to work towards making the ‘not for profit’ sector a better place to work for you and your colleagues across the sector and in so doing to improve the services being delivered to the Victorian community.
The SACS sector is predominantly characterized by small sized organizations that are often geographically dispersed. For example, there are around 4,000 community service businesses registered, and a significant number of these employ less than five employees. This means that it is especially important for ASU members to be active at their workplace and unite to achieve the best pay and conditions possible – a united front will make this achievable.
Workers in this sector may have their conditions of employment regulated by one of the following Modern Awards:
- Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services Industry Award 2010
- Labour Market Assistance Industry Award 2010
Equal Work Equal Pay
Women doing the same job as men are supposed to be paid the same by law. However, many women still find themselves underpaid including those in social and community services. The ASU believe everyone’s work should be valued properly. Closing the pay gap is a key priority as part of the ASU agenda.
Valuing women’s work
Unequal pay or “pay inequity” can be measured in two ways. First, as a direct comparison between a male and female employee doing the same work but earning a different salary, including penalty rates, overtime and bonuses.
Secondly, it is measured by the difference in pay between industry sectors with a greater value placed on some types of work compared with others.
Traditionally, industries with a majority of female workers have attracted lower pay rates than male-dominated industries.
This difference in “value” is partly historical, emanating from a time when women were not regarded as “breadwinners” nor welcome in most parts of the workforce. “Women’s work” was, and still is, a term used to downplay the value of women’s skills.
Male-dominated industries have also traditionally been more industrially organized, with better pay and conditions hard won through decades of negotiation, disputes and legal rulings.
These historic differences and attitudes are still reflected in the pay packets of women and practices of many workplaces today, resulting in a persistent wage gap that remains stuck at 18% in 2010.
Equal Pay Case
As part of the ASU’s Respect campaign, we launched a landmark equal pay case in 2009 to secure equal pay for ASU members that work in the social and community services sector.
Despite performing highly skilled, complex and vital work, they are among the lowest paid workers in Australia, largely because their work has been historically viewed as “women’s work”.
The case is the first to test the new equal pay provisions of the Fair Work Act and we hope it will help establish an equal pay standard for other industries.