The Fair Work Commission (FWC) has agreed to a request by the new Labor government to extend the period for submissions in the case for a 25% pay rise for aged care workers.
One of Labor’s first acts when it came into government was to write to the FWC requesting an extension for the timeframe for submissions.
Aged Care Minister Anika Wells and Health Minister Mark Butler wrote to the FWC within 24 hours of being sworn into their new ministerial roles, asking to be part of proceedings and to be able to make submissions.
The work value case has arisen from a claim by the Health Services Union (HSU), United Workers Union (UWU) and the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) for a 25% pay rise for nurses, carers, cooks and others working in aged care.
In an interview on Nine’s Today programme, Minister Butler said the former government under Scott Morrison “pretended [an increase for aged care workers] wasn’t his job”.
“Aged care workers get paid less than people working in a zoo, caring for animals, feeding animals.
“That simply is not fair, but it’s also not sustainable if we’re going to get the number of aged care workers, nurses, carers and other workers we need today, but particularly are going to need into the future as our population continues to age.”
The government will make its submission by 8 August 2022, and hearings have been proposed for later that month.
“We thank the Fair Work Commission and union parties for agreeing to this change,” Ms Wells told The Australian Financial Review.
“There is not a day to waste on this matter; good people are leaving the sector when we need tens of thousands more to come into it.”
Aged care reform was a significant theme of Labor’s election pitch, and has been a clear focus for Ministers Butler and Wells in their new roles.
Earlier this week, Wells outlined the government’s plans for aged care. She said she will be looking at using overseas staff to fill tens of thousands of job vacancies in aged care.
Labor has promised to increase the number of home care packages, to require a registered nurse on site 24 hours a day in aged care homes from July next year, and to make it compulsory for all aged care residents to receive an average of 215 minutes of care per day, as recommended by the royal commission.