Today, mental health workers are filing an equal pay claim through their unions. Mental health support workers do important and difficult work in our communities. But because the workforce is largely female, they are not paid enough. It’s wrong for women to be earning so much less than men in 2017. There desperately needs to be a Government committed to fixing this problem and to step up to ensure that mental health support workers are paid more.
Recently, Parliament had a beautiful moment celebrating the passing of the care and support workers settlement. Kristine Bartlett and lots of union colleagues were in the gallery and we all felt pretty wonderful voting for these wonderful hard working, skilled women to get the pay rise they’ve been owed for a bloody long time.
It was not lost on most of us that the Government’s celebration and claims to righteousness were a bit hollow. Considering they’d known about the underpayment for so long, and had chosen not to do anything, and then they’d supported the employers fighting against caregivers right to use the Equal Pay Act. Now, the Government’s draft Equal Pay Act will scrap the law which saw the caregivers win their pay increase, and will put more barriers in the way of women being paid what they deserve.
But all that aside, it was a wonderful historic moment, and we all felt good. Now that the PSA and E Tū have taken this claim for equal pay for mental health workers, the Government has the chance to show us all that they really do want to end the exploitation of women’s work.