In-Between Travel law passes third reading - debate highlights
The hard-fought-for right to be paid for time spent travelling between clients was finally won in February - with the Home And Community Support Settlement Bill passing its third reading. MPs paid tribute to the well-deserved win for home care workers, and praised the PSA and other unions for fighting hard for workers. Here's a selection of speeches from the third reading debate:
Iain Lees-Galloway (Labour): I think this is a wonderful victory for working people, and it is a demonstration of the important role that unions still hold in the modern New Zealand workplace. Even during a period of time when the Government has changed the law to diminish the role of unions to make it harder for them to do their job and harder for them to get positive and fair outcomes for their members and for other workers, these unions-the PSA and E tū, supported by the -Council of Trade Unions-have been able to achieve a fantastic outcome. And it is good for the industry as well .. Unions are still, even under this Government, gaining enormous successes for their members and for workers right across New Zealand, and today is a day that we should celebrate unions and that unions should celebrate the work that they are doing.
Denise Roche (Greens): I think we have to recognise and thank the unions for taking this proactive approach, for engaging in a conversation looking at the future-exchanging back-pay compensation for future benefits. I think that is the difference between an industrial relations lawyer, who could have taken the case and could have gone for back-pay claims. The difference between that and the unions is that they take the sensible, collaborative, collective approach, looking for practical and pragmatic solutions. I think we need to note that these benefits will be passed on to home carers who are not union members. It is good that that happens, because otherwise they undercut the ones who are union members. We should really recognise that in lots of different sectors that unions negotiate pragmatic deals that benefit their union members, but which are also passed on to others in the sector.
Barbara Stewart (NZ First): In New Zealand First we would also like to thank those thousands of home and community-based care and support workers who work tirelessly every day to make their client’s day just a little bit brighter, a little bit better. We know it can be really challenging work-it is not easy-but I know for a fact that these people are passionate about making a difference, they are highly skilled, and we should appreciate the very important job that they do. Their dedication in their work keeps many of our elderly-many of our seniors-out of -rest homes. We all know that people want to live independently for as long as they possibly can, and this group of workers are absolutely essential to ensuring that this happens. So, we acknowledge the fantastic work that they do.
Dr Shane Reti (National-Whangarei): This bill goes some way to valuing the efforts of our home and community support sector. It does so by pay recognition, a formula that fundamentally measures time and distance. I want to recognise what the sector does that is also valuable but cannot be measured by time and distance, which will probably never actually be well measured in a formula of this kind-a smile, a warm touch, human contact. These are all very important. They are not in the formula, but it is our belief they are just as important, and it is our hope that pay recognition goes some way to acknowledging this important sector and the invaluable work that they do.