Author: E tū

Unions lodge pay equity claim for care and support workers 

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.”

ENDS For more information and comment:
Kirsty McCully (E tū), 027 204 6354
Melissa Woolley (PSA), 0274 418 230
Glenda Alexander (NZNO), 027 201 6881

Renewed settlement for care and support workers still leaves sector in crisis, unions say

Unions representing thousands of care and support workers across Aotearoa New Zealand say the renewed care and support legislation that sets workers’ pay rates will leave workers and the sector in crisis for longer.

The legislation to amend the Support Workers (Pay Equity) Settlements Act 2017, which will update pay rates, is expected to pass on Wednesday.

However, unions say members are severely disappointed at the pay increase the Government has decided on – a “measly” three percent, far below the cost-of-living pressures workers are facing.

When the current Act expires on 1 July, unions will raise a pay equity claim to further increase the pay rates for support workers, but this process is expected to take 18 months.

Unions say they are equally disappointed the Ministry of Health did not share the content of the amendment bill or the new rates before the cut-off date of 21 June, despite ongoing negotiations for more than a year.

E tū Director Kirsty McCully says the current interim pay increase leaves support workers still struggling to survive in the meantime.

“With inflation at 6.9 percent and skyrocketing energy and fuel bills, these frontline workers face another 18 months of misery and it means their pay essentially goes backwards.

“It’s good news we’ll now be able to take a pay equity claim which wasn’t possible under the previous legislation, but workers can’t wait that long for a decent pay rise.”

PSA National Secretary Kerry Davies says the low pay increase leaves the sector in crisis.

“We believe this will see workers having to fight for higher pay or leave the sector – when it is the Government that holds the purse strings,” she says.

“Workforce shortages are already leaving elderly, vulnerable, ill, disabled clients and people in the community who have mental health and addiction needs in the lurch.”

NZNO Kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku says unions will be lodging a pay equity claim on behalf of care and support workers as soon as possible after 1 July.

“We will fight to see this claim progressed as quickly as possible, as it is clearly the only pathway to achieving decent and respectful increases for the workforce.”

Note to editors: The 4.6 percent increase on pay rates quoted by Minister Little includes a 1.6 percent LCI adjustment, which was agreed in the 2017 Act. The amended bill only includes a pay rise of 3 percent.

ENDS

Kirsty McCully (E tū Director), 027 204 6354
Kerry Davies (PSA National Secretary), 027 430 6013

Rob Zorn (NZNO Communications Advisor), 027 431 2617

Manufacturing workers reject pay offer for strike to combat cost of living struggles

Workers at an Auckland lock manufacturing plant are walking off the job this week over a pay offer they say doesn’t go far enough to help members — some having to work regular overtime just to meet their daily expenses.

Around 50 E tū members from Assa Abloy are striking for 24 hours from Wednesday afternoon to secure a “decent” pay increase.

E tū delegate Ralph Greig, who works a night shift, says he estimates around 70 percent of other members on his shift regularly work 10 hours of overtime each week just to meet the cost of living.

“The general perception is that once you work 40 hours, you should be able to sustain yourself and lead a good life.

“But our members have to rely on overtime, which takes us away from our lives and family time, to make ends meet,” he says.

“It’s the only way that we can put food on the table, pay our rents — just working 40 hours is not enough.”

Assa Abloy has currently offered an increase which is not much higher than CPI, and members say it is simply not enough.

Ralph says members feel their pay claim is fair and now is time for better pay: “We are united in our stand because we feel the day-to-day pinch. The only way out is to minimise our hardships by fighting for decent pay.”

E tū organiser Eugene Setu says Assa Abloy members feel “left behind”.

“Given CPI, the increase in purchasing power for these members at the current pay offer is little more than 0.5 percent.

“They need a decent pay increase – so they can take home enough pay from a standard full-time week and be able to spend time with their families.”

Eugene says the strike is about workers taking a stand about their own value in the workplace.

“This is about workers taking ownership of their future through their collective action to create decent working lives.”

Assa Abloy members will be picketing outside their company premises at 6 Armstrong Road, Rosedale on Thursday 23 June from 6am to 2pm.

ENDS

For more information and comment:
Eugene Setu 027 541 3630

Manufacturing workers strike as say they can’t wait longer for Living Wage

Up to 100 E tū members at a major transformer manufacturing plant in Auckland are striking and picketing on Friday in an effort to secure a Living Wage for the majority of its members as soon as possible.

Members working at ETEL Transformers say they want the company to increase the base rate for fully trained workers to at least the 2022/23 Living Wage rate from June.

The company wants to wait until December, but members say they can’t hold out any longer.

ETEL E tū delegate Viane Muliaga says members say they need at least the 2022/23 Living Wage now to cope with the huge rises in the cost of living, as many are struggling and some even working second jobs.

“Our members are telling us they need it now, not in December, as the company has offered.

“Many say they are struggling to survive on what they earn – especially with kids, rent or a mortgage, food, and not to mention petrol,” he says.

Viane says low current and past wages for the majority of members has also led to a high turnover of staff.

“It’s very physical work as well, so people leave to get easier, better-paid jobs elsewhere – we want to hold onto the workers we have.”

Another delegate Malu Schaaf says members simply can’t wait any longer for better pay: “They have told us that they need it now – not in six months.”

E tū organiser Jen Natoli says many workers, who have been underpaid for decades, are now pushing for more that they may have in the past, given the huge jumps in their own bottom lines.

“Wages haven’t kept pace for workers, and manufacturing companies are now having to consider what a Living Wage means to their workers when CPI is so high.”

She says historically low-paid workers finally asserting themselves in the fight for better pay is a trend likely to continue.

“While employers might be looking to get away with pay increases of around 6%, what we are seeing now is members who won’t settle for anything less than 8% to 10% – even up to 15% – after several decades of having just the minimum. 

“Because of low pay increases and an increasing Minimum Wage, manufacturing workers have found they no longer earn the margins they used to for their skills and experience – an industry once known for its well-paid jobs.

“When you’re paying high amounts for basic necessities, when you can’t make your rent, those wins become urgent.”

ETEL members are striking and picketing outside ETEL premises at 550 Rosebank Rd, Avondale, Auckland on Friday 10 June from 6.30am to 1pm.

Members have also put a ban on overtime hours from Wednesday 8 June to Monday 13 June.

ENDS

For more information and comment:
Jen Natoli, 027 591 0041

Ministry pay decision a “big setback” for care and support workers

Care and support workers are “gutted and disappointed” after a Ministry of Health recommendation that will not see workers get a pay rise of more than 70 cents an hour for at least a year.

In May, workers rallied around the country and presented a petition with more than 10,000 signatures calling on the Government for a bigger pay rise as part of the renewal of the Care and Support Workers (Pay Equity) Settlement Act to combat worker shortages and financial hardship.

While workers are relieved that the Ministry has recommended Government extend the settlement, which sets their pay and conditions, and remove the current ban on pay equity claims, workers, their employers, and unions say a 70 cent or 2.8 percent increase on all existing wage rates will only exacerbate existing worker shortages.

Union delegate Pania Love says the pay decision is “gut wrenching” and puts huge pressure on those who choose to stay in the care and support sector.

“It feels like the work I do supporting people with disabilities and my level of skill has not been acknowledged.

“We are already understaffed and overworked. Due to work and pay rates, many staff new to the disability sector do not stay long enough to build skills to provide the level of quality care required with empathy and compassion.”

Pania says this puts huge pressure on the few trained, experienced staff who are left working “huge hours and feeling burnt out”.

“While our work remains undervalued and underpaid, we will struggle to attract new workers to provide quality services to the people we support.”

Union delegate Ginny Sarich says the decision is a “big setback” for care and support workers and the whole sector.

“It will be an additional challenge for the people in our care, as they may lose the support workers that they’ve worked with for a long time to better, higher-paid jobs.

“It’s a very disappointing outcome, but we will keep pushing for justice, because ultimately, the conditions for workers are also the conditions for those receiving care.”

PSA Assistant Secretary Melissa Woolley says the Ministry’s recommendation is disappointing to workers across the care and support sectors.

“The original settlement was historic as it started to value the work of these workers. With inflation sitting at 6.9 percent, the increase the Ministry of Health has recommended to workers will leave them still struggling to provide for themselves and their whānau.”

Melissa says unions will raise a pay equity claim on 1 July to ensure workers truly get the pay equity they deserve.

“But that process will take time to reach an outcome, and in the meantime, workers will struggle to live on low wages.”

E tū Director Kirsty McCully says the decision not to raise wages for at least the next 18 months while a pay equity claim is processed will drive workers out of the sector – at a time when providers struggle to recruit them in the first place.

“We know there are already service shortages, and these will only increase as workers tell us they are leaving the sector to get better-paid jobs in work that’s less dangerous and difficult.”

Kirsty says not only is the care and support workforce losing its most skilled and experienced workers, but it’s also very difficult to attract new workers to the sector because of the low pay and inherently challenging nature of the work.

“The conditions for our workers also affect the thousands of people needing care in the community that they support.

“This isn’t just for workers, but for all who require care to live full and independent lives.”

ENDS

For more information and comment:
Kirsty McCully (E tū Director), 027 204 6354
Kerry Davies (PSA National Secretary) 0274 306 013
Rob Zorn (NZNO Communications Advisor), 027 431 2617

Care and support workers deliver thousands of messages to Government pleading for better pay

After rallying around Aotearoa for a better pay offer, care and support workers and their unions are delivering their messages to Parliament in a petition signed by thousands in just 10 days.

They will hand over the petition, which has more than 10,000 signatures, on Tuesday afternoon.

Workers in the care and support sector are strongly pushing back on the Government’s current pay offer of around 70 cents more per hour for an 18-month period, which would start after legislation setting their pay and conditions expires on 30 June.

With negotiations set to conclude this week, workers are desperate for a resolution and want to see a sustainable future for their sector.

Union delegate and care worker Kiranjeet says working conditions are already poor: “I see people coming into our sector and leaving in days because the work is exhausting, high pressured.

“We are understaffed, and the pay is too low. Who would sign up to do this work for $21.84 an hour?”

Sector providers are fully behind their staff and launched the petition jointly with care unions to draw attention to what was going on.

The issue has also struck a chord with the community too, with many petition signers leaving personal messages of support for care workers.

“I want to support the support workers who make it possible for my elderly father, who has Alzheimer’s, to live independently,” Marion writes. “I am so grateful for the care my father receives, and I am appalled at the low rates of pay these ‘angels on the ground’ receive.

“They are so well trained, capable, and genuinely caring. I have learnt a lot from them. With my heartfelt thanks. We are incredibly fortunate to have them.”


With the time running out to secure an agreement, workers want to see the Government present a fair pay offer by the end of the week.

Care and support workers will present their petition to Labour MP Ibrahim Omer outside Parliament on Tuesday 24 May at 2.30pm.

ENDS

For more information and comment:
Kirsty McCully (E tū director), 027 204 6354
Melissa Woolley (PSA assistant national secretary), 027 441 8230

Rob Zorn (NZNO communications advisor), 027 431 2617

Support workers, employers come together in fight for pay increase

Care and support workers, their employers, and the clients and residents they care for are rallying together for the first time to secure an urgent pay increase for workers in the sector before legislation that sets their pay and qualifications requirements expires in just over a month’s time.

Around 65,000 care and support workers fear an uncertain future if the Government doesn’t agree to boost funding to provide a substantial increase in their pay rates.

However, the Government has so far indicated there’s unlikely to be funding for more than 70 cents an hour per worker for an 18-month period.

Future fair pay is also far from guaranteed with the parties yet to determine how pay rates will be set beyond the current legislation expiry.

With inflation running at 6.9 percent, care and support workers, who perform essential services for elderly, disabled, or those with mental health and addiction needs, are already struggling to survive.

Aged care worker and union delegate Marianne Bishop says workers fought “for years” to get the original pay settlement put in place, which was negotiated by all three unions back in 2017.

“Workers don’t want to lose those gains, nor the important requirements that set out training and progression through the pay scales as workers grow their knowledge and experience.

“At the moment, they say they feel they are going backwards, only existing week to week.”

Many members share similar stories of hardship: having to choose between putting petrol in their car or food on the table, worrying about how they’ll pay their mortgage or rent.

Mental health support worker and union delegate Christie Cox says she cares for and loves the people she works with – some who, she says, wouldn’t be alive today without the vital work she and her colleagues do.

“But passion doesn’t pay my bills. Passion doesn’t put petrol in my car, buy me groceries.

“Passion for my job doesn’t afford me the things I need for my wellbeing.”

Home and Community Health Association CEO, Graeme Titcombe, say the Government needs to fund appropriate wage levels for support workers.

“It’s imperative if we are to retain and attract the staff necessary to continue to provide quality services to those receiving support in their homes.

“This valuable workforce has worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic and deserves to have their skill and dedication appropriately recognised.”

New Zealand Disability Support Network CEO, Peter Reynolds, says workers, some employers, and unions worked really hard to win the settlement for support workers back in 2017.

“We don’t want the efforts of those who fought for those gains to be wasted,” he says.

“At the end of the day, it is the impact on disabled people and others needing support that we need to keep in focus.”

Grey Power National President, Jan Pentecost, agrees: “Grey Power knows very well that care and support workers provide an essential service that many older people and others rely on every day.

“Without adequate pay and conditions, this leads to the loss of even more carers and inadequate care, leaving vulnerable people to suffer.

“A likely outcome, if nothing is done, is an increase in ill health and even fatalities – don’t these older folk, others, and the workers who care for them deserve better?”

Care and support workers and their allies are holding rallies and events across Aotearoa to push for a pay rise and highlight their concerns on Monday 23 May.

ENDS

For more information and comment:
Kirsty McCully (E tū director), 027 204 6354
Liz Robinson
, (PSA communications advisor) 027 281 6173
Rob Zorn (NZNO communications advisor), 027 431 2617

Budget brings positive relief measures and the promise of long-term progress

E tū welcomes Budget 2022, which includes a range of measures that will help E tū members and their communities during a time of increased hardship coming out of the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

E tū Assistant National Secretary Annie Newman says this Budget both addresses the immediate challenges facing many in Aotearoa and lays the groundwork for improving our country’s longer-term prospects.

“The headline news of $1 billion in payments for low- and middle-income earners comes at exactly the right time,” Annie says.

Annie says global pressures that have spiked inflation have seen many people and families finding it harder and harder to keep up with the daily cost of living.

“People will also find immediate relief in the two-month extension of half-price public transport fares and the fuel tax reduction. It means more money in people’s pockets.”

Health funding has always been a concern for E tū members, particularly frontline workers in areas like aged care and DHBs, she says.

“While the record boost for health is needed to establish the new health structure, E tū is disappointed to see the care and support workforce left out.

“Addressing wages in care and support would make the biggest impact on cost of living for these workers and their whānau.” 

Annie says E tū is heartened to see more than $15 million of specific funding set aside to operationalise Fair Pay Agreements.

“We’re also looking forward to seeing more detail about the New Zealand Income Insurance Scheme, which will be a lifesaver for any workers who are made redundant or are unable to work due to long-term illness.

“We have long called for publicly funded dental care as critical to the health and wellbeing of our communities, and so we are delighted to see a significant increase in funding for dental care, which will make a real difference to the lives of low-paid workers.”

Annie says that many E tū members identify the costs of housing as being the most significant issue affecting their household finances.

“Support for both first home buyers and public housing is great to see,” she says.

Annie says there will be a lot more to unpack over the coming days and weeks.

“We’re looking forward to diving into the details and discussing with our members what Budget 2022 will mean for them.”

ENDS

Annie Newman, 027 204 6340

Pay negotiations for care and support workers set up to fail

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.

ENDS

For more information and comment:

Kirsty McCully (E tū director), 027 204 6354, [email protected]
Lesley Harry (NZNO industrial adviser), 027 499 0778,
[email protected]
Liz Robinson (PSA communications), 027 281 6173, [email protected]