Matildas' strike wins pay rise

The Matildas' strike was the first by a national sporting team.

“Matildas midfielder Hayley Raso says the pay increase gained by Australia's top female soccer players could not have been obtained without strike action,” the Sydney Morning Herald said on November 9.

In the first ever strike by a national sporting team, the Matildas refused to travel to play world women's football champions, the US, in protest at the refusal of Football Federation Australia to meet their demands.

The Matildas are Australia's most successful team, male or female, in the roundball game. Yet the Matildas' players base salary had been a mere $21,000 a year — well below the minimum wage of $34,158.

ABC News reported on October 16 that Matildas' players were forced to go on the dole and clean toilets while representing their country.

An October 18 ABC's Background Briefing said: “By contrast, a Socceroo playing all [male national team] Socceroos matches will have earned more than $200,000 so far this year alone—even though the men are ranked 58th in the world and the women are 9th.”

Former Matildas vice captain Joey Peters told the ABC that she'd had to clean toilets to get by while playing for women's team. “The other thing that I'd think about when I was cleaning toilets was [Soceroos star] Harry Kewell,” she said. “I'd just be cleaning toilets going, 'Oh, if only I was a boy I'd be able to not have to do this and live comfortably.'

Peters went on the dole when toilet cleaning jobs were not available: “I was the vice captain of Matildas, lining up for Centrelink.”

But after a protracted industrial battle, the Professional Footballers Association (PFA, which represents Australian footballers) signed a new agreement with the FFA on November 6 that improves Matildas' pay.

The SMH said: “The top Matildas will now receive $41,000 a year, with a new second tier set at $30,000 per annum in addition to match fees…

“Players will also receive payments via their ongoing contracts with W-League clubs, and be given daily allowances during national team camps and on match days.”

Raso told the SMH: “Obviously the girls have all been working really hard at this. We didn't go on the US trip, which isn't something that we wanted to do but in order for the game to grow and for the future of women in sport I think it's something we had to do.

“So it's really great to get a resolution, so all the girls are pretty happy about that at the moment.”

Asked whether such gains could have been won without strike action, Raso said: “I don't think so. So I think that has benefited us big time.”

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