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Hundreds Of Rest Home Workers To Strike

15 September 2005

Hundreds Of Rest Home Workers To Strike

Around 500 healthcare workers are expected to walk off the job from 20 rest home and hospital sites on September 30. Guardian Healthcare Group Limited, the country’s largest provider of aged residential care, has been served with strike notices by the New Zealand Nurses Organisation and the Service & Food Workers Union.

Guardian Healthcare Group chairman Bryan Mogridge said strike action would take place across the country despite Guardian tabling an interim two per cent wage increase. “Both unions are seeking a minimum wage increase of five per cent,” he said.

For the last three years Guardian has increased wages by two per cent annually, and in 2004 paid another wage increase when there was still no certainty over funding increases from the Government via the District Health Boards (DHBs).

“We need assurance from the Government and the DHBs about funding increases and we urge them to make this their highest priority. We can not continue to carry the cost of inflation when we are not compensated for this. That is why we can not increase wages to the level we would like,” said Mr Mogridge.

“We have little or no room to budge on our interim two per cent increase until the DHBs pass on the $71 million promised by the Government in the Budget for the aged residential care sector. If we receive three per cent, then we will increase wages by three per cent. In the same vein, if we receive five per cent, we will increase wages by five per cent.

“If Guardian Healthcare Group is prepared to make that level of commitment, surely the Government and the DHBs can unblock their administration and provide a definite percentage fee increase and a commitment to annually adjust fees according to the rate of inflation. DHBs pay their own health and hospital services inflation-adjusted fees, while refusing to inflation-adjust the fees they pay private providers,” Mr Mogridge said. “The private sector is the main provider of aged care in New Zealand and this government intransigence can not go on for much longer. They promised and haven’t delivered.

“We can not have stand-over tactics by the unions when the fault lies with the Government,” he said.

ENDS


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