Unions representing care and support workers are lodging a pay equity claim today to raise pay rates for a majority female workforce that has always been undervalued.
The pay equity claim is a crucial step in stemming the crisis the care and support sector faces, E tū, NZNO, and PSA unions say.
Last week, the Government passed legislation which gives care and support workers a three percent pay increase for 18 months, while the pay equity claim is completed.
Unions say the disappointing pay increase is a “step backwards” in workers’ fight to win fair pay rates.
E tū Director Kirsty McCully says unions are pushing to achieve pay equity as soon as possible.
“Care and support workers, who are mostly women, deserve recognition and fair pay for the crucial work they do in our communities.
“In 2017 when the Act was first passed, we finally achieved decent pay rises for workers who had been undervalued and underpaid for decades.
“But now with the cost of living sitting at 6.9%, this low-paid group of workers is struggling to survive and that directly impacts those who need care and support: elderly, people with disabilities, and those with mental health and addictions needs, and their whānau.”
PSA Assistant Secretary Melissa Woolley says unions are calling on the Government to “fast track” the pay equity process.
“We need the Government to value these essential health workers and respect the people they support by expediting the pay equity process and by funding an interim pay increase, as they have for all other health workers during their pay equity processes.”
NZNO Manager for Industrial Services Glenda Alexander says raising pay for workers by achieving pay equity is a key part of solving the crisis in the care and support sector.
“Workers are leaving the sector because they can’t survive on what they earn,” she says.
“Raising pay rates and creating viable career pathways is a major factor in ensuring care and support workers have decent work, but also in making sure that people in our communities have access to the care they need and deserve.”