Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Tracking Pay Equity: The Impact of Regulatory Change on the Dissemination and Sustainability of Equal Remuneration Decisions

an article by Julie Connolly, Tricia Rooney and Gillian Whitehouse (University of Queensland, Australia) published in Journal of Industrial Relations Volume 54 Number 2 (April 2012)


While considerable attention has been paid to gains made in successful pay equity cases, there has been limited analysis of compliance with decisions and the maintenance of relative wage increases. This article examines the dissemination and sustainability of wage gains won under the auspices of Queensland’s ‘equal remuneration principle’ for dental assistants and childcare workers in 2005 and 2006, respectively, in the context of subsequent changes to the industrial relations framework in Australia.

It shows that while increases were initially disseminated effectively, albeit with some differences across jurisdictions in the context of Work Choices, longer-term maintenance is at risk with the full translation of these groups into the federal system under the Fair Work Act.

Our analysis underlines the importance of forms of collectivism within the industrial relations system, which facilitated the determination and dissemination of wage gains in spite of low levels of unionization and the absence of direct action among these award-reliant groups. However, we argue that this collectivism was insufficient to ensure the sustainability of equal remuneration gains in the face of jurisdictional changes and that the capacity for the types of collectivism supportive of pay equity under Modern Awards is yet to be determined.

Hazel’s comment:
Clearly a case of the law says you must, or must not, but if no-one is going to check compliance with the law then it might as well not be there!

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