Hundreds of workers with a disability will rally in Maitland to protest a proposed wage change

MAKE IT COUNT: Hundreds of people attended the My Job Counts Rally in Wollongong in September.
MAKE IT COUNT: Hundreds of people attended the My Job Counts Rally in Wollongong in September.

Hundreds of people with a disability, their families and supporters will rally in Maitland next week to protest proposed changes to the wage structure for people with a disability.

Mai-Wel Group General Manager Anthony Rohr said if the changes are adopted it would be unsuitable for disability enterprises like Mai-Wel.

“Such a system would lead to major job losses for two reasons,” he said.

“It artificially increases wages for people doing basic or simple tasks and equally disadvantages others who are at a high skill level,” Mr Rohr said.

There are more than 180 disability enterprises like The Mai-Wel Group across the country.

These not-for-profit businesses employ about 20,000 people and provide income, training and socialisation and support for people with mild to moderate, intellectual, physical and psychosocial disabilities.

While not operating for profit they do run on tight budgets with the same economic pressures all businesses face. Many disability enterprises have to subsidise the business with fundraising to remain viable.

Each disability enterprise receives Federal Government funding to provide support for people with disabilities but the level of funding received depends on how much support the employee needs at work. These employees receive a percentage of the full rate, worked out using a wage assessment tool which determines what proportion of the wage is paid to the employee.

In February the Fair Work Commission will decide how wages for workers with a disability are determined. The outcome could destroy the financial viability of many disability enterprises forcing them out of business.

Various disability advocates and the Federal Government are putting forward a different system of working out the rates of pay for disability enterprise employees and it is feared this may have the potential to wreck a viable system.

Certain advocates and the government want skill based assessments removed from the wage assessment tool and instead are seeking a chance to a productivity based wage tool.

This means being paid for how fast you work rather than the skill required to carry out the work.

The Maitland My Job Counts rally will be held at Turner Rest Park (next to Maitland Police Station), Church Street, Maitland at 10am on November 20.