“The negotiations that have brought the bargaining for this settlement to completion for taking to ratification are a tribute to the positive, collaborative partnership approach jointly taken by Oranga Tamariki and the PSA – side by side,” says Erin Polaczuk, PSA National Secretary.
“The agreement for funding the settlement by Cabinet is a recognition that the important role of statutory social workers has been undervalued – and more than that, it has been subject to historical and ongoing gender-based undervaluation.
“The time to correct this is now, and it is heartening that first phase of a new salary range could be in place by as soon as the 1st of December this year with an average lift of 30.6% over two years, across the salaries of more than 1300 Oranga Tamariki social worker salaries in multiple social work capacities.
“This has not been an overnight victory,” says Erin Polaczuk. “It dates back to a pay equity claim lodged by the PSA back in November 2015 and it is a testament to the dedication and determination of the PSA members Pixie Stockman, Tina Corrigan and Rachael Baxter Mackay who were the original claimants, that this has now been achieved.
“We believe the process used for reaching this settlement and its application of the principles of the pay equity Joint Working Group is also historical, and that, as previously observed by Minister of Children Tracey Martin it represents a ‘gold standard’ for progressing future pay equity claims.
“We have no doubt that this settlement will have an influence for social workers in other sectors, and in that sense it is a true trail blazer for the undervalued profession of social work.
“For social workers at DHBs and NGOs who deliver vital community public services it is a given that discussions about pay equity will be entered into - with strong, continuing advocacy for pay equity from the PSA on their behalf”.
All affected social workers employed by Oranga Tamariki – both members of PSA and non-members - will be invited to a nationwide series of ratification meetings that will be held over the next fortnight and where the journey to this settlement will be fully explained.
Oranga Tamariki PSA members will vote at these democratic meetings whether to accept the settlement, with a final tally and announcement expected in the week of 22nd October.
See also: Social workers launch historic equal pay claim
Today the Public Service Association (PSA), the union for social workers filed an historic case seeking equal pay for social work, an occupation dominated by women and undervalued for years.
The case is filed under the Equal Pay Act 1972 and alleges social workers at Child, Youth and Family do not receive equal pay on the basis of gender and seeks a determination of what they should be paid.
Erin Polaczuk, PSA national secretary, said "This is a monumental step to get equal pay for social workers, who have been underpaid for years,"
"Social workers in New Zealand are underpaid, and this can be attributed to the workforce being well over 70% women.
"Social workers have a huge responsibility for the welfare of vulnerable children, but the workforce do not receive the pay they would if staff were predominantly men.
"The work Social Workers do is crucial to the wellbeing of the next generation, and it’s important they are properly valued for it.
"Social Workers have been seeking equal pay for years and while their employer recognizes the role is highly demanding both emotionally and physically, equal pay has still not been achieved.
"We are hopeful that we will not need to pursue this case through the Courts and that the Government’s working group will deliver equal pay for Social Workers," Said Erin Polaczuk.