Patience of DHB Admin workers around New Zealand has worn out
Hothouse Support 11 Feb 2019
Nationwide Stop Work meetings held for DHB Administration workers across all 20 District Health Boards today have delivered a loud and clear message that their patience with repeatedly delayed timelines for bargaining settlements for improved pay and conditions has worn out.
“The high turn-out of PSA members for today’s Stop Work meetings demonstrated an unprecedented groundswell of support for industrial action at DHBs in the Northern and Lower North Island regions where progress on bargaining for new MECAs (Multi-Employer Collective Agreements) has been in a total limbo,” says Kerry Davies, PSA national Secretary.
“This was the first time ever that national Stop Work meetings have been called to allow PSA members in these vital roles at hospitals to send a message about how far they have been left behind and just how frustrated and angry they are”.
PSA’s DHB national organiser Ashok Shankar said initial resolutions had been overwhelmingly passed by PSA members at DHBs in the Northern and Lower North Island regions for the PSA to proceed with planning for strike action - dependent on whether significant progress is made at bargaining meetings being held this month on 19-20 February (Northern region) and 26-27 February (Lower North Island region).
Ashok Shankar: “The meeting rooms we booked for today’s Stop Work meetings were filled to overflowing and many members were in favour of moving straight to strike action. That is a direct reflection of the sense of urgency from our members for DHBs to stop repeated delays around bringing a pay offer to the bargaining table and, at the same time, to accelerate progress on their equal pay claim.
“For PSA members at DHBs in the Midlands and South Island regions today’s Stop Work meeting endorsed strategies for bargaining on the expiring MECAs in their regions. Those members also gave a strong show of support for other DHB Administration workers who are now considering strike action”.
See also: Raw deal for DHB admin and clerical workers unacceptable
The Public Service Association (PSA) is stepping up its equal pay campaign for DHB administration and clerical workers, in the face of more evidence that these underpaid workers are among the last line of under-funding in the health system.
“Not only are DHB admin and clerical workers bearing the brunt of underfunding but we also have evidence now that sites like Middlemore Hospital (Counties Manukau DHB) have been leaving administration jobs vacant as a cost-saving measure,” says Kerry Davies, PSA national Secretary.
“It is becoming more and more obvious that the neglect and undervaluation of DHB administration workers, who play an integral role at the frontline of service delivery at our hospitals and who carry growing workloads, has reached a chronic level.
“It is extremely negative to see workplaces like Counties Manukau DHB ignoring the worth of this already stretched and under pressure part of the health workforce by not filling up to 58 vacancies [as reported by Radio New Zealand].
“The populations being served at DHBs have kept growing and yet there is a retrogressive cap in place on admin staff. The attitude taken to administration workers – across the country – is that they will keep making endless sacrifices like working in smaller teams and for longer hours to help prop up the health system.
“The poor treatment of DHB administration and clerical workers cannot continue without putting patient safety at risk. It is simply unacceptable and we will be fighting even harder for the rights of these workers in 2019 to see the Equal Pay claim we lodged with all 20 DHBs in April this year taken forward”.
Note: This Thursday 20 December, DHB administration workers and equal pay advocates from around New Zealand will be ‘singing for equal pay’ at a carolling event in central Wellington’s Midland Park from 12 noon. For more information please visit https://www.psa.org.nz/media/campaigns/at-the-heart-of-the-hospital/
See also: DHB admin and clerical workers raise claim for Equal Pay
Around 7000 DHB workers are standing together to raise a claim for equal pay for administration and clerical employees.
Public Service Association members have raised an equal pay claim with DHBs around the country, claiming their work is worth more.
They have raised the claim on Administrative Workers’ Appreciation Day, which marks the massive contribution that admin staff around New Zealand make to their workplaces.
"DHB clerical and administration staff are among the poorest-paid workers in the health system, and around 90 per cent of them are women," PSA National Secretary Erin Polaczuk says.
"They keep the system running, but most are paid little more than the minimum wage because their jobs have been considered ‘women’s work’.
"This claim, raised under the process recommended by the Joint Working Group on Equal Pay Principles, will set about ending this once and for all."
The claim has been endorsed by nearly 5000 PSA members working in DHBs.
Representatives of the DHBs have received the claim and say they are looking forward to working through the process set out by the Joint Working Group.
"Administration and clerical workers keep our health system on its feet, and the importance and value of their work has been overlooked for too long," Ms Polaczuk says.
"This claim is about more than money - it’s about recognising the important role these women play.
"We look forward to fruitful discussions with the employers, and a swift resolution to the claim."