A MAJOR fight is brewing over pay rates in the child care industry, with unions pushing for pay rises up to 70% above current rates in long day care centres.
The Fair Work Commission case, brought by the Australian Education Union and United Voice, also involves the new Coalition Government and local governments around the country.
It is only the second "equal remuneration" case brought in the commission since it was established, and has been quietly developing in a series of documents filed with the FWC since July.
Parties to the case include the two unions, the government, the Australian Chamber of Commerce, Australian Childcare Centres Association, state industry bodies and local government associations.
The unions are arguing for the pay rises on the basis child care workers are largely young women on low pay doing work that would require higher wages in other sectors.
But it hinges on the union claim that there is "no suitable remedy" to address the "gender undervaluation of the work performed by employees in the sector".
Documents filed show the unions are fighting for new pay rates across the sector starting from 39% to up to 71% above current award wages.
The additional money would be paid under three awards, the Children's Services Award, Educational Services (Teachers) Awards and the Local Government Industry Award.
However, groups including the national chamber of commerce are arguing against the pay rise on the basis of several legal technicalities.
The chamber and local government bodies have written that the union's application has not clarified which particular people the pay rise would apply to.
Opposition to the case has also come in the form of a challenge to the union's claim there were no measures other than the lengthy equal remuneration process to put forward a case.