The ruling, on an element of HEUs pay equity plan called comparability, effectively adds an additional $26 million annually to the pot of money available for adjustments for more than 40,000 front line caregivers working in hospitals and long term care facilities. Retroactive to April 1996, it means that a lump sum of more than $100 million is available for adjustments this year alone.
But the employer has moved to appeal the decision, which could signal a renewed effort to thwart the unions decades-long struggle to win justice.
More than 99 per cent of affected union members have received pay equity adjustments or will do so in the future. However, prior to the arbitration decision, the remaining equity wage gaps were so large between 15 and 20 percent thousands of caregivers would have waited until 2020 to reach their fair and just wage rates.
Since 1991 when HEU reached its landmark pay equity settlement with health employers, union members have received more than a half a billion dollars in special wage adjustments from the NDP government in Victoria.