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Community sector wants equal pay

By johnboy - 10 June 2010 17

As RiotACT readers no doubt no well there are two great instincts at the heart of any bureaucrat.

    1) To cover their arses against potential future criticisms of their actions

    2) To expand their empire

The “Community sector” is what happens when the Government decides services are important but instinct 1 overpowers instinct 2.

While there are some charities, and most “community sector organisations” take donations, the vast majority of the money comes from Governments handing out money to; if not make problems go away, at least to make it seem like as much is being done as can be expected.

And if things go tits up the community sector org can be set adrift, tenders issued, and someone else brought in with a slightly different name.

The ABC brings word that community sector workers have been protesting for equal pay as public servants.

Labor MLA Joy Burch has issued a statement of support. In a related move the Chief Minister has announced he’s going to push more tenders at organisations which employ more people with a disability and long term unemployed (not exactly a push for excellence).

Just a thought, perhaps if people want to be paid the same as other people in other jobs they should go get those other jobs?

In any event if the ACT Government wants more pay for community sector workers it’s going to have to increase what it gives community sector oranisations, it’s a pretty tight loop.

UPDATE: The Greens’ Senate candidate Lyn Hatfield Dodds is joining the call for a massive rise in the cost of community services.

What’s Your opinion?


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17 Responses to
Community sector wants equal pay
lulu 9:28 am 13 Jun 10

Why is the private sector absent form this argument?

Bimbo Geek says:

“Community sector is run very differently to public service and tends to hire very different personalities. As a multi-talented misfit with no specific skill I have zero chance of getting a gig this interesting in public service yet in community sector I’ve got responsibilities, challenges, opportunities etc. that most people can’t believe someone this young has worked on so much stuff!”

“Multi-talented misfits” often do very well in the private sector which Bimbo Geek will soon be joining as a business owner. Often Community Sector Workers (such as BG and myself) think only in comparative terms with the Public Service. The Private Sector exists even in Canberra and it can sometimes offer a lot more satisfaction to energetic people who less concerned with covering their butts than with getting things done and seeing results.

PS: Why can’t I italicise quotes?

I’m seriously considering it.

Eby 8:35 am 11 Jun 10

I also just wanted to clarify that in a way, the reason this case has progressed isn’t for the sake of individual workers so much, but the community services; who are struggling with recruitment and retention issues. These pay rises will support those services to be able to keep their staff (and therefore provide a consistent service to their clients, where they’re not continually having capacity issues and training up new staff).

Eby 8:27 am 11 Jun 10

callie said :

I’m all for parity, though I would expect that the workers gaining it would all have the training, qualifications and experience as their counterparts.

I do actually agree with this – I think the problem is that there are an increasing number of people with appropriate qualifications (who unfortunately are still in the minority) who are then still on low wages.

I think the idea of the pay parity case, is that the new rates will be determined through identifying and comparing certain roles with similar roles that already exist in the government. In Queensland, they recently achieved a decision on pay parity based on the idea that the community sector workforce was mostly female, and that the work was seen as ‘women’s work’, thus resulting in a discrimination case.

harley 12:09 am 11 Jun 10

Most community organisations are able to offer very generous salary packaging options to their employees, due to some Federal tax concessions. Staff can expense/package things most people pay with post-tax dollars. It can up the tax-free threshold to these staff well into the 5-figure range.

Pretty sure removing this (perk/leveller*) was one of the rejected Henry recommendations.

* delete whichever depending on your social justice bent.

callie 10:36 pm 10 Jun 10

Something that is often forgotten – community services workers and government are usually working with the very same disadvantaged families. Community do a great job, as do government. The hard, depressing work is not confined to one or the other.

Often grass roots workers in community are working part time and gaining formal qualifications, once the qualifications are obtained, they move to the P.S.

I’m all for parity, though I would expect that the workers gaining it would all have the training, qualifications and experience as their counterparts.

johnboy 10:09 pm 10 Jun 10

actually it does.

These morons don’t get it thought.

Eby 9:54 pm 10 Jun 10

SamTSeppo said :

Long story short, given governmental funding and the current world economy, any raise for employees of NFPs means less money going to the people who are supposedly going to be helped by those same NFPs.

So if you value your paycheck more than the folks you’re supposedly working to help, by all means, go for it.

Um, I can’t believe I have to say this, but it kind of doesn’t work like that…..

Eby 9:53 pm 10 Jun 10

georgesgenitals said :

What about government organisations that are part of the cimmunity sector, like ACTCOSS? I think they are banded as regular (?) ACT pubes, but get lower remuneration.

ACTCOSS, along with all community peak bodies, are community sector agencies, not government agencies.

Like most community services, they exist through government grants and tenders. The reason the wages are comparatively low, is because the government doesn’t provide them with adequate funding.

Community services provide vital and important supports to some of the most disadvantaged people in Canberra. However, the vast majority of them experience issues around staff recruitment and retention, because the wages are low, compared with the public service. Many people don’t last long in the community sector – it’s hard, often depressing work, and they usually hop over into the public service.

In relation to JB’s comment about the Government having to fund the pay rises, unfortunately there is no certainty about this – there is a real possibility that community services will be required to give their staff a significant pay rise (which is great), but the Government will not provide the additional funding to cover this. Therefore, services will have to cut jobs, and expect less staff to do more.

BimboGeek 6:47 pm 10 Jun 10

SamTSeppo said :

So if you value your paycheck more than the folks you’re supposedly working to help, by all means, go for it.

Same goes for the mindless carpet shuffling droogs.

SamTSeppo 5:34 pm 10 Jun 10

Long story short, given governmental funding and the current world economy, any raise for employees of NFPs means less money going to the people who are supposedly going to be helped by those same NFPs.

So if you value your paycheck more than the folks you’re supposedly working to help, by all means, go for it.

neanderthalsis 4:45 pm 10 Jun 10

I have spent a good deal of my working life in community based NFPs earning a lot less than if I was a PS employee. I knew I was worth a lot more as a pube but I realised that if I wanted Pube type money I would have to sell my soul and become a mindless carpet shuffling droog. Now, after a number of years in senior NFP roles and a good deal of patience, I have a well paying job that competes with high level pube wages but is a lot more diverse and interesting.

Most NFP employees know that the pay is low but stay where they are because of the benefits that being in a community based orgqnisation can bring, such as the salary sacrifice options, the work their doing is interesting and has a direct impact on people and they get to have a life that involves more than cubicle gossip.

With APS4 being an entry level position in many departments and EL1s doing very basic contract managment work, I think the big question should be not whether community based employees are earning too little, but whether the PS is being paid too much.

BimboGeek 4:35 pm 10 Jun 10

p1 said :

So what about the employee of an organisation which gets, say, 50% funded by the government? Do they get 50% of a PS wage?

Sometimes they do! But maybe in these cases it’s more like 80%.

I work at a place that is fully member funded. No government money at all although we do keep looking for opportunities to get some.

Our wages are determined by the competition – basically the board will pay us whatever it takes to get the good people. If the government somehow put up wages to government funded peak bodies then competition for good staff would eventually raise wages in our organisation.

p1 4:03 pm 10 Jun 10

So what about the employee of an organisation which gets, say, 50% funded by the government? Do they get 50% of a PS wage?

georgesgenitals 2:47 pm 10 Jun 10

What about government organisations that are part of the cimmunity sector, like ACTCOSS? I think they are banded as regular (?) ACT pubes, but get lower remuneration.

BimboGeek 2:23 pm 10 Jun 10

Community sector is run very differently to public service and tends to hire very different personalities. As a multi-talented misfit with no specific skill I have zero chance of getting a gig this interesting in public service yet in community sector I’ve got responsibilities, challenges, opportunities etc. that most people can’t believe someone this young has worked on so much stuff!

Just this week I’ve been doing database work, tender management, graphic and web design, writing marketing copy, financial management, and more. But I’m paid as an APS4 because I don’t have any one skill and even though in reality I’m managing these things it’s hard to see me as other than just “admin”.

Actually I do have a skill that’s basically unrelated to what I’ve been doing here, and I’m leaving to run my own business, but still I’ve considered this career as more of awesome education in every aspect of how to run a small business rather than aweseome employment.

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