In 2012, aged care worker Kristine Bartlett, with her union E Tū, brought an Equal Pay Act case against her employer, Terranova Homes. She argued that she had spent 20 years on very low pay because aged care is largely performed by women.
Ms Bartlett’s case went all the way to the Supreme Court. The Court agreed that anyone who does so called ‘women’s work’ can make a pay equity claim under the Equal Pay Act.
To avoid further court cases after the Kristine Bartlett win, the government set up a Joint Working Group with unions, businesses and officials to agree on a set of pay equity principles. These principles aim to help women and employers negotiate over equal pay and get justice more quickly and efficiently than by having to go to court.
In April 2017, in response to Kristine Bartlett’s win, the Government agreed to a $2 billion settlement to fund 20–40% pay rises for care workers over the next five years.
This win by rest home care workers show what’s possible when we combine our strength in a union to give us the power to stand up for what’s right.