Our Work Matters
11 Jun 2019
It's time to show Access Community Health that Our Work Matters.
The 2017 care and support pay equity settlement won a significant pay boost for support workers across New Zealand - but coordinators, administrators, and call centre workers at Access Community Health have been left behind, and now earn less than the support workers they are responsible for coordinating.
Access workers coordinate home support for over 21,000 elderly, disabled or injured clients. Despite playing a vital role in the care and support of Access clients, many of these workers are paid at the minimum wage for undertaking this important work.
Overworked, understaffed, and undervalued, Access members have had enough of their employer failing to see that Our Work Matters.
Access says they can’t raise wages because of a lack of funding - but this is a business owned by Green Cross Health, the group behind Unichem and Life Pharmacy, which reported a net profit of $8 million in the six months to September 2018.
We welcome your support to help these workers achieve a decent pay increase that recognises and values their very important work coordinating the care and support of some of our most vulnerable people in our communities.
You can get behind our members at Access Community Health by writing to CE Access Chief Executive Alison Van Wyk to tell them how important it is that PSA and E tū members get a fair deal.
You can send your own message, or use our suggestion below:
Dear Alison Van Wyk,
I'm writing to urge you to return to the negotiating table and offer a fair pay deal for PSA and E tū members working in administration, coordination, and call centres for Access Community Health.
The work of union members at Access Community Health is highly valuable, and has been underappreciated for far too long.
These PSA and E tū members play a vital role in Access' ability to provide critical services that your clients use every day.
They love what they do and they want to make a difference, but they're struggling with overwork, understaffing and making ends meet on low pay.
These workers want to ensure that clients are well supported for the long term, which means Access Community Health need to invest in this critical workforce.
Please do the right thing and return to these members with a fair deal.
(your name here)
We ask you to contact firstname.lastname@example.org by email or if you would prefer post, to:
Alison van Wyk CEO,
Access Community Health
P.O. Box 38139,
Wellington Mail Centre,
Lower Hutt 5045
Support on social media
You can also show your support on social media!
Message Access Community Health on Facebook to tell them you support a fair deal for PSA and E tū members, or tweet your support to Green Cross Health (handle @gxhnz) where your support can be seen by journalists and other opinion-formers. Make sure to use the hashtag #ourworkmatters and tag in @NZPSA and @EtuUnion so we can retweet you!
PSA and E tū members at Access Community Health voted unanimously in June to reject the most recent offer from their employer, and in favour of taking industrial action.
A week of industrial action took place from Monday the 13th to Friday the 17th of May. Actions included a combination of partial and full strikes at different sites across the country, including:
- A three hour ban on answering incoming phone calls
- A three hour ban on sending and answering emails and text messages
- A full day complete withdrawal from labour
- Picketing outside the Access Community Health head office and other sites
Following industrial action the PSA and E tū bargaining team returned to mediation on May 23rd in hope of reaching an improved offer, however the fresh offer to lift pay for many members by only 50 cents an hour left members unimpressed and voting for further action over the offer from Access.
This action commenced on Friday May 31st, and included a nationwide walk-out from 1:00pm until close of business, as well as picketing at select offices around the country including a picket from 1:00-3:00pm outside the Access head office in Petone.
Despite the actions being taken by low level workers with long notice periods, Access responded to early strike actions in an extreme manner by suspending members for engaging in industrial action, evicting them from their offices, and using bullying and intimidation tactics to undermine the bargaining process.
Further actions taken by Access in response to the industrial action include suspending union delegates on the coordination team, trying to deter members from striking by offering to revoke suspension in return for abandoning strike actions, and singling out members following strike action to explain their ‘poor work performance’.
The PSA and E tū strongly condemned the tactics used by Access, describing the behaviour as an unacceptable show of union busting.
Call centre workers' suspension 'heavy-handed', says union - Stuff, May 13
Access Community Health suspend lowest paid workers as industrial action begins - PSA media release, May 13
Access Denied: Healthcare group again suspend low-paid workers in unprecedented action - PSA media release, May 15
Employer accused of ‘bullying and intimidation tactics’ - Human Resources Director, May 16
Insulted by 40 cents an hour pay rise offer - Stuff, May 17
Access Community Health: Returning to the bargaining table - PSA media release, May 23
Frustrated Access members vote for action over offer - PSA media release, May 30
More strike action after 40 cent payrise offer upped to 50 cents - Stuff, May 31
Access Community Health is a subsidiary business of Green Cross Health Limiting, a primary health care services company listed on the New Zealand Stock Exchange. As of March 2019, the group had a market capitalisation of $143 million.
- Pharmacies: 362 pharmacies under its Unichem and Life Pharmacy brands
- Medical: 41 medical centres under the doctors brand
- Community: home support services to 21,400 clients through Access Community Health, with 3.8 million home visits in 2018, employing 3,500 support workers and 166 community nurses.
Net profit attributable to shareholders increased from $16.9 million in 2017 to $18.7 million in 2018, and the company issued more shares and paid more in dividends to its shareholders.
Access says they can’t raise wages because of a lack of funding. But this is a business owned by Green Cross Health, the group behind Unichem and Life Pharmacy, which reported a net profit of $8 million in the six months to September 2018.