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NZNO Challenge All Parties On Aged Care Crisis

2 August 2005

NZNO Challenge All Parties On Aged Care Crisis

Nurses' Organisation Challenges All Parties To Spell Out How They Will Solve Aged Care Crisis

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation has echoed the concerns of Health Care Providers NZ about the funding crisis in aged care.

"There is no doubt that aged care is in crisis and the pay rates of workers in aged care continue to be a disgrace," said Cee Payne-Harker, NZNO aged care co-ordinator. "No wonder that there is such a serious recruitment and retention problem in the sector."

But Cee Payne-Harker warned voters to be wary of rhetoric from political parties about fixing the funding problems.

"Some parties are seeking political mileage from attacking the government's record in aged care while failing to provide any policy detail and firm funding commitments about how they will fix the problem," she said.

"NZNO is challenging all political parties to demonstrate how they will ensure a decent standard of care for our older people and how they will ensure the workforce in aged care is fairly paid, adequately trained and maintained at a staff staffing level."

Cee Payne-Harker said workers in aged care needed the support of strong industrial law to bargain collectively for pay levels matching those in public hospitals.

"National's proposal to undermine their ability to bargain collectively by making changes to our industrial legislation would simply make things worse in aged care," she said.

Before National brought in the Employment Contracts Act in 1991, nurses' and caregivers' pay and conditions in the public and private sectors were closely linked. After the ECA penal rates, decent overtime payments and public holiday pay vanished in aged care and wages and conditions for nurses and caregivers in aged care dropped behind.

During the 1990s the National Government ran down funding of the aged care sector and for five years employers were given barely any increase for pay and staffing.

"While Labour hasn't done enough to turn back the clock to pre-1990, funding for the sector has increased by $131 million over the past two years and, under the Employment Relations Act, workers have the right to organise in unions and bargain collectively," said Cee Payne-Harker.

ENDS

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