Thousands rally in Melbourne for equal pay
08 June 2011
Activist Zelda D’Aprano, who in 1969 chained herself to a Commonwealth building in a protest, gave a rousing speech to the crowd outside Trades Hall in Melbourne before a march to State Parliament.
AEU branch president Mary Bluett told protestors: “It is an indictment of our society that 42 years after Zelda took her historic stand that we are having to take to the streets again today to ask for equal pay for a fair day’s work.
“Keep up the fight,” she added. “We can only win!”
Bluett also revealed that two of the AEU’s witnesses at the inquiry have since been forced to leave the disability sector due to the low wages.
Protestors joined the rally from as far as Bendigo, Castlemaine, Kyneton and Ballarat, and some disability centres closed for the day to allow members to attend the rally.
The crowd marched through Melbourne’s CBD and danced on the steps of Parliament to Donna Summer’s “She Works Hard for the Money”.
Fair Work Australia has ruled that social and community service workers do not receive equal pay and that gender is a significant cause of the pay gap. It is now seeking further submissions from unions and employers before making a decision on the size of the wage increase.
Australian Services Union branch secretary Lisa Darmanin said: "Unfortunately we're here because the federal and state governments have not committed the funds in order to deliver on equal pay for all of the community.
"We’re rallying today to call on the government to put the money where their mouth is and pay up."