There's been a severe lack of attention for disability support workers in the pandemic responses, despite your critical role in supporting people with disabilities, so to recognise your valuable and essential work we celebrated Disability Workers Week state-wide in December last year.
We had an incredible week meeting disability workers like you, your family members and people you were supporting at the events and your worksites across the state.
Those who joined our union activities had the chance to win on-the-spot prizes of $50 gift cards along with an entry into the draw to win a $600, $300 or $150 Coles or Woolies gift card.
Following the BBQs and wobbleboarding in Devonport, Burnie and Launceston, we had an extremely well-attended Drinks and Nibbles evening in Hobart where it was great to meet many new support workers and have meaningful conversations about your work.
Over the Disability Workers Week, we highlighted the importance of your work in the community and brought more public awareness about how vital your services are.
You deserve anything but to be overlooked by the state and federal governments in this challenging time.
Last but not least, we extend a warm thankyou for making us feel very welcome when we visited workplaces.
Remember that there is no such thing as being “just a support worker” - You are an essential worker and we’re proud to represent you!
The Equal Remuneration Order was a decision by the Fair Work Commission that resulted in wage increases ranging from 23-45% for community and disability services workers, won after HACSU and other unions fought for your work to be valued.
The ERO addressed a generations-long injustice that saw workers in historically female-dominated industries being paid less for similarly-skilled jobs than workers in historically male-dominated industries which unions recognised as inherently unfair so took a case to the Fair Work Commission to show the value of your work.
Fair Work found there were indeed long-standing biases in how community and disability services workers’ labour was perceived, which were the result of women’s labour being dismissed as trivial by the lawmakers of the day.
To bridge the gap, Fair Work handed down the Equal Remuneration Order in 2012, awarding workers in community and disability services wage increases ranging from 23-45% over 10 years in addition to any other pay rises gained through annual CPI wage rises. The ERO applied to workers on the SCHADS Award and workplace enterprise agreements alike.
Wages in the community and disability services sectors increased gradually thanks to the ERO until the final payment was made last December.
When you get paid this week, have a look at what you earned, then remove about a third, because that's what you'd be earning today if your union hadn’t taken on this fight to achieve pay justice on behalf of all workers in this sector.
This pay rise wasn't granted by employers or the government or a natural force of justice, this pay equity was fought for and won by unions – by a group of working people like you who joined together to address inequality.
If you know someone who has yet to join, now is a good time for them to become part of the movement that increased your wages by a third and to be part of making more change for disability workers.
With the Disability Royal Commission looking into your sector there are sure to be changes afoot, so everyone needs to be part of the movement that will look after your interests.
Have you heard your employer talking about “client choice”?
It’s a great thing that service users are finally getting a say in who supports them, but that doesn’t mean your boss can use it as an excuse to change your roster and cut your hours.
Lots of employers are calling workers in and saying things like, “Due to client choice, we’re now going to need to make changes”, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they can just go ahead and change your roster or cut your hours because your contracted hours form an agreement between you and your employer - they can't simply decide to reduce them.
If you are told by your employer that they want to change your roster or reduce your contracted hours, the first thing you need to do is make use of your union membership by giving HACSUassist a call so we can look at the situation and help you get the best outcome.
We often hear from workers in the disability sector who've been casual employees at the same workplace for years on end, often even working regular rostered hours for most of that time.
Some people enjoy the benefits of being casual, like the higher pay rate and the choice of declining shifts if they want to, but there are plenty of people who'd prefer the job security, sick pay and annual leave granted to permanent employees.
Some agreements and awards offer casual employees the chance to convert to permanent contracts and, generally, you need to work regular shifts and have done so in the same job for a certain period of time (without the hours being the result of backfilling for another employee on leave).
Even if there’s no conversion option spelled out in the agreement, if you’ve worked in the same place doing the same job for several years it can still be worth having a conversation about the possibility of converting to permanent work - after all, if you never ask you never know.
If you’d like to know more about casual conversion and what options might be available to you or a friend, feel free to give us a call.
If you need any more information, just call HACSUassist on 1300 880 032.