Monday, April 22, 2024

Care workers deliver letter calling for immediate pay equity

Delegates from the three unions representing care and support workers are today – on International Women’s Day – will deliver an open letter to the chief executive of Te Whatu Ora demanding urgent action on their pay equity claim.

“There are 65,000 care and support workers in Aotearoa, most of us are women, and we’re getting paid less than we’re worth,” said PSA Delegate and mental health support worker Christie Cox.

“This is discrimination based on our gender and we want this wrong righted now.

“But our pay equity claim has been stalled for six months by baffling delays that mean we’re falling even further behind.

“More than 9,100 people agree with us which is why they signed the letter we’re delivering to Te Whatu Ora Chief Executive, Margie Apa, on International Women’s Day. Enough is enough. Our pay equity claim must be settled fairly and fully without further delay,” Cox continued.

Te Whatu Ora Chief Executive, Margie Apa.

New Zealand Nurses Organisation Pay Equity Lead, Glenda Alexander said most New Zealanders “believe in just wages regardless of gender”.

“I think we’d all agree that female-dominated professions, where people deliver healthcare to our loved ones in care facilities, in their homes, or at mental health or disability support facilities, deserve to be valued as highly as male-dominated professions with similar skills and demands,” she said.

There are currently three active pay equity claims for care and support workers covering over 200 employers. The first, filed in July 2022, covers around 30% of the workforce at 15 employers and has been with Te Whatu Ora since September last year.

“It’s a bit of a kick in the teeth. Pay equity is about recognition and respect. It should lift us up to where we belong as health professionals in challenging work. Instead it feels like Te Whatu Ora is telling us we’re worth less yet again,” said Ms Cox.

She says that in 2017, when the original historic pay equity settlement was delivered by the National Government, the bottom pay rate for care and support workers was 20% higher than minimum wage, and 6.3% lower than the living wage. Now, the bottom rate is the minimum wage and 14.5% lower than the living wage.

“Our clients are suffering while our industry falls apart. I’ve lost so many colleagues to Australia. Many people in our line of work are not far away from retirement. What’s going to happen to our older people when no one is there to come and help manage their medication? Or spot elder abuse in their homes?” asks Cushla Rahman, E tū Industry Council Member and home support worker.

“It’s time for a simple solution to sort this out. We’re calling on Health Minister Shane Reti to intervene and deliver pay equity for care and support workers now, just as the National Government did in 2017,” she said.

The three unions are the Public Service Association Te Pūkenga Here Tikanga Mahi, E tū, and the New Zealand Nurses Organisation Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa.

The letter is also signed by health organisations including Carers New Zealand, the New Zealand Society of Diversional and Recreational Therapists, and Alzheimer’s New Zealand, and civil society groups including Grey Power and the National Council of Women New Zealand.

The letter can be read here.

Latest Articles