Equal Pay care and support - what's next?


There were tears, laughter and much cheering as care and support workers received the news of the proposed settlement on equal pay for disability, aged care and home support workers. What's happening now?

Group1 RGB6The government and union negotiators (PSA, E tu, NZNO and CTU) have signed a settlement agreement proposal and we want you to come along to support your settlement!

What's in the proposed settlement?

Two weeks ago, Prime Minister Bill English announced the proposed settlement which had been negotiated with the PSA, E tu, NZNO and CTU It will transform tens of thousands of lives and is worth over $2 billion over the next five years. It applies to all care and support workers in aged care, disability support, and home support.

Read the Agreed Position here.

Read the Care and Support Workers (Pay Equity) Settlement Agreement here (PDF).

From July 1 this year, pay rates will increase quickly, and continue rising through to 2021.

  • In year 1 staff will be paid between $19.00 and $23.50 per hour. The average rate right now is only around $16.00 an hour.
  • By 2021, entry level pay will be $21.50 an hour, and top level pay will be $27.00 an hour.
  • Pay increases will be linked to qualifications and experience.

PSA delegate Helen Amey revealed how after 8 years’ experience and with a level 3 national certificate, she is on minimum wage. She needs to work four jobs to make ends meet.

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She told the gathering: “This is a victory for all working women. It shows what we can do when we stand together for a better working life. It shows what we can achieve when we join a union. And it shows what we can achieve when our unions work together with business and government.”

What’s next?

Now it’s up to you to decide if you want to accept it. Because this is your settlement from your campaign, you get to have a vote at meetings on whether the settlement goes through or not.

You need to go to a ratification meeting to hear all the details and have your say. Find out how the settlement proposal impacts on your pay rate. Your PSA organiser will send you the time, location and date in the next two weeks.

We strongly recommend you accept this settlement. Tens of thousands of workers will get a pay rate that better values the skilled work you do. It will help people working as caregivers and support workers have a more balanced life. It represents a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity in the journey for equal pay.

Talk to your colleagues now so we have lots of care and support workers attending the meetings. Please encourage your workmates to come, even if they aren’t union members! This is more than a ratification vote – it is a celebration of years of your hard work. Without your support this would not have been possible.

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Kristine Bartlett and Health Minister Jonathan Coleman sign the proposed settlement

Equal pay and vocational workers

There have been a number of queries about the Equal Pay Settlement and how it affects Disability vocational workers.

The Agreed Position of the Parties (the Government and the unions) about vocational workers is as follows:

The Ministry of Social Development (MSD) and the Ministry for Vulnerable Children Oranga Tamariki (MVCOT) are not a party to this agreement but agree in principle that vocational disability support workers should be covered bv a separate agreement consistent with the terms of this agreement. MSD and MVCOT are committed to engaging with unions and employers to give effect to this intention and to arrive at a settlement within the next two months.

Only the Ministry of Health, the District Health Boards and ACC were included in the initial agreement because of the size and complexity of negotiating the settlement. Unions complained about the exclusion of MSD from this process and we were repeatedly given assurances that this would be taken care of later in the same way and on the same terms as the main settlement.

A "consistent agreement" means that the 1 July 2017 commencement date, the pay rates, the transition, the progression system and the commitments around training and qualifications will be the same as the Care and Support Settlement Agreement.

The first meeting between the unions and MSD and MVCOT took place last week. There are no apparent difficulties in applying the settlement to vocational workers, with the only two issues being the scope of “vocational services” and the various funding arrangements that will need to be made with sector employers to ensure payment.

We have proposed to MSD/MVCOT that the scope of vocational services is as defined in the Care and Support Settlement Agreement, which specifically includes “supported employment services, vocational training/business enterprises and community participation programmes”. We also want them to add some work within residential services that MVCOT funds for mainly autistic children who have been transferred into these services when their parents were no longer able to support them at home.

The union will be holding the Crown to its obligation under the Care and Support Settlement Agreement (in particular the statement in the Agreed Position of the Parties). We want all vocational workers to attend and vote on the settlement at the ratification meetings on the presumption that the commitment contained in this document will be translated to a separate settlement by 2 July 2017.

What’s next for mental health support workers?

It is disappointing that mental health support workers are not included in the care and support settlement proposal. The Ministry of Health would not agree to include them.

Support workers in disability and home support recognise the value of mental health support and the increasing demands placed on mental health services and those delivering mental health services.

The PSA will continue to advocate for mental health support workers to get paid on the basis of the care and support pay rates. This includes a public campaign and possible legal action in support of fair pay for mental health support workers.

Disability and Home support and aged care support workers got equal pay by sticking together and campaigning. We haven’t finished until everyone gets a fair deal.

What can I do to help?

Become an equal pay advocate and speak up about the skill and responsibility involved in your work to your local MPs and community.

To sign up, click on this link and click "Join campaign".