|Issue No 48||31 March 2000|
Action Boosts Wages for Disabled Workers
By Mickael Kjaerbye
Workers with disabilities at a NSW workplace now have career paths and a better wages system thanks to a new Union-backed agreement.
Greenacres, at Wollongong, employs 130 people with developmental disabilities to make products including small packaging, lights and body bags.
LHMU industrial officer Matt Warburton said the agreement - the first of its kind - provided a system of independent assessment for employees with disabilities.
Many Workers Were Paid at the Lowest Rate
Before, the rate of pay for employees with disabilities was worked out as a percentage of the work they did compared to an able-bodied employee.
But without any independent system to assess their productivity, the decision was left to management. 'This meant many workers in the industry were paid at the lowest rate,' said Matt.
Workers Assessed on a Range of Competencies
As well as providing an individual assessment tool to work out an appropriate wage, the agreement creates career paths by assessing workers on a range of competencies.
'Some are work and skills-based competencies and others relate to more general life skills such as getting along with co-workers and arriving at work on time,' said Matt.
'If they can improve their level of productivity they get an increase in payment or higher classification.'
Delegate John Kingston said the agreement was a boost for workers and improved their working lives.
Greenacres became the first disability service in Australia to be named a Best Practice organisation for its affirmative action program in December, 1999.
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