“Historic moment:” pay-rise for 55,000 low-paid women workers in health sector

kristine-bartlett
Kristine Bartlett. Photo: First Union.

News from NZ Government
Health Minister Jonathan Coleman has today announced that some of the health sector’s lowest paid workers will share in a $2 billion pay equity settlement over five years.

The wage boost follows the TerraNova pay equity claim brought by E tū (previously the Service and Food Workers Union) on behalf of Lower Hutt care worker Kristine Bartlett.

“This settlement recognises the work carried out by the 55,000 workers in our aged and disability residential care, and home and community support services across the country,” says Dr Coleman.

“From July 1 this dedicated and predominantly female workforce who are mostly on or around minimum wage will receive a pay rise between around 15 and 50 per cent depending on their qualifications and or experience.

“For the 20,000 workers currently on the minimum wage of $15.75 per hour, it means on July 1 they will move to at least $19 per hour, a 21 per cent pay rise. For a full-time worker, this means they will be taking home around an extra $100 a week, which is over $5,000 a year.”

For these 55,000 workers this funding boost will see wages increase to between $19 to $27 per hour over five years. Existing workers will be transitioned to positions on the new pay scale which reflect their skills, and their experience. For new workers employed after July 1 wages will be based on an individual’s level of qualifications.

A care and support worker on the minimum wage with three years’ experience and no qualifications will receive a 27 per cent increase in their hourly wage rate moving from $15.75 to $20 per hour from July 1. That rate would progressively increase to $23 by July 2021 and would rise further if they attain a higher qualification.

The $2.048 billion settlement over five years will be funded through an increase of $1.856 billion to Vote Health and $192 million to ACC. ACC levies are set for the coming years, but may possibly increase over the next decade to support this. However, that is not definite. There may also be an increase in costs for people in aged residential care facilities, whose assets keep them above the subsidy threshold. This will be determined through the annual Aged Residential Care contract negotiations.

“To ensure the pay rises happen in the agreed manner, I will be introducing legislation to Parliament shortly,” says Dr Coleman.

“I would like to thank E tū, Public Service Association, New Zealand Nurses Organisation, and the Council of Trade Unions for their constructive and positive approach throughout the negotiations. I would also like to acknowledge the New Zealand Aged Care Association, Home and Community Health Association, and the New Zealand Disability Support Network for the vital role they have played in reaching this agreement over the past 20 months.

“I would also like to recognise the employers who will implement this new wage structure and pass the rates onto their staff.

“Home and community support, disability and aged residential care workers are widely seen as amongst the most deserving of recognition as a pay equity case. It is an historic moment for the Government to address this undervaluing with Ms Bartlett and the unions.”

News from Labour Party
The pay equity settlement revealed today for around 55,000 low-paid workers was hard-won by a determined Lower Hutt caregiver Kristine Bartlett backed by her union, up against sheer Government resistance to paying Kiwis their fair share, says Labour Leader Andrew Little.

“Labour welcomes the impending settlement and we congratulate Kristine Bartlett, her union E Tu and other unions for their perseverance and determination. Their hard-won victory will make a huge difference to the lives of 55,000 low-paid New Zealanders.

“But make no mistake, the Government has been dragged kicking and screaming to this point, having had lawyers at each appeal stage of the original case opposing lower court decisions on pay equity determinations.

“This settlement wouldn’t have been reached without the unions’ involvement, which will see thousands of other workers benefit from the legal case and the outcome of the negotiations

“This shouldn’t have been such a tough fight to wage with the Government. We still need to see a modern and more effective system for dealing with pay equity claims, which is overdue years after National shut down the pay equity unit set up under a previous Labour Government.

“This outcome will be an overdue spur for pay equity and for lifting low pay in many other areas, and confirms the need for modern and fairer pay setting mechanisms,” says Andrew Little.

News from Green Party
Payday has been hard fought for by women who work in the aged-care, home support and disability service sector, thanks to Lower Hutt caregiver Kristine Bartlett, unions and supporters around the country, the Green Party said today.

The Government is expected to announce a settlement in the historic pay-equity case today, with 55,000 mostly female workers set to receive a pay rise.

“Women have been consciously underpaid and have been fighting for more pay for far too long. Today’s announcement is long overdue,” Green Party women’s spokesperson Jan Logie said.

“Kristine Bartlett is a hero for her determination to see women paid more – despite Government interventions and stalling – and so are the thousands of other women who have joined her in this fight.

“The most lowly paid workers in New Zealand shouldn’t have had to fund court case after court case, with the Government opposing their efforts to see more pay.

“There is still work to be done to ensure all women are paid what they should be. I look forward to the Government supporting my member’s bill on pay transparency for women when it comes up for its first vote on May 10.

“My bill would see gender pay transparency indexes published so that women know if they are being underpaid. Women have the right to know if and by how much they are being underpaid so that they can work towards changing it.

“We can fix the gender pay imbalance in this country and ensure that every woman is paid what she’s worth.

“Even today’s announcement will still be phased in over many years, and these women have waited too long already. There is no moral justification for making women wait longer.

“Today is a great day for women in New Zealand, and part of a long journey towards women being acknowledged and valued for all the work that they do,” said Ms Logie.

 

2 comments:

  1. Vicki Taylor., 18. April 2017, 14:45

    A great day for caregivers. It has taken far too long to get to this point but now we are here let’s all join together and be proud of all the hard work that has brought us to this today .I have worked in aged care for 37 years now and today means so much to me and many others who have been under paid and under valued for so along Thankyou Kristine thankyou to the unions and all our supporters The time for change is here this is a GOOD DAY. .

     
  2. Lola Ester, 19. April 2017, 7:08

    More than that number of people do not get paid for their carer work. If they want (or need) to provide care for a disabled family member, the govt pays them nothing (or if they are lucky $6.25 an hr) for their disability care and home support work. If this is a time for change, let’s look at the Govt that is not funding disability support and carer work in a vast number of cases. And look at the injured and disabled ACC claimants being “knocked off the ACC books” and then not being supported by the govt at MSD (as an ACC claimant they are not eligible for Disability Support Services or a family care policy).

     

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