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Social Worker pay equity settlement marks milestone

Reaching a pay equity settlement for social workers at Oranga Tamariki is an historic milestone that begins to put social work up where it belongs, says the PSA.

"The negotiations that have brought the bargaining for this settlement to completion 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 Rachel 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.

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