Unions representing care and support workers, E tū, NZNO, and PSA, have entered discussions with the Government to improve pay rates and lock in existing training rights for 65,000 care and support workers.
The historic 2017 Care and Support Workers Settlement raised wages for care and support workers. But the settlement expires at the end of June and workers need new pay rates to be agreed, so the value of the settlement is maintained.
Workers will lodge a claim under the updated Equal Pay Act once they are legally able to do so but need a pay rise while work happens on the claim, which is estimated to take around 18 months.
The Government’s offer of approximately 2.5-3% amounts to less than half of the current rate of inflation and would apply for 18 months while the work is being conducted.
This amounts to a significant pay cut for workers and is inadequate. It leaves this predominantly female workforce with a difficult choice: leave for a better paid, less stressful job elsewhere, or keep supporting vulnerable people in our communities while facing soaring living costs they cannot keep up with.
Care and support unions say an extension to the settlement with increased pay rates to keep pace with inflation is essential, giving time to work through a full pay equity process. This is needed to avoid further erosion of the already tough conditions care and support workers face.
Union members say their sector is in crisis, with employers struggling to staff shifts to care for our most vulnerable.
Short staffing, low pay, and poor working conditions have led to care and support workers struggling to provide the quality of care their residents and clients need, with many workers choosing to simply leave the sector altogether.
The unions urge the Government to provide the adequate funding needed to value these workers properly.