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Guardian Strike On As Mediation Fails

23 September 2005

Guardian Strike On As Mediation Fails

Next week’s strike action involving more than 500 staff of Guardian Healthcare Limited is set to go ahead after mediation between the parties failed to settle the dispute.

New Zealand Nurses Organisation and Service and Food Workers Union members are set to strike for six hours on Friday 30 September with a further 24 hour strike scheduled for 6 October.

Union spokesperson Jane Kostanich says the employer rejected a union offer to settle the dispute.

“This dispute is a classic David and Goliath. On the one hand hundreds of low paid, hard working women and on the other an overseas (Australian) owned operator, rich in cash and poor in spirit,”she said.

“During the mediation the unions tabled a possible settlement that represented a major shift in our stance. Sadly the employer’s response was to reject our compromise.

“GHG rates and conditions are lower than many other providers and our members do not accept that, given that GHG is a profitable company, they cannot make a fair offer.“

The unions are claiming a minimum of $11 for caregivers and up to $14.

Jane Kostanich says the strike could be a foretaste of things to come as other caregivers and nursing staff become fed up with low wages and being undervalued.

“In the wake of the election result this is the time for a cross party agreement to put an end to low funding and low wages,”she said.

Jane Kostanich said that since the Fair Pay settlement in the public sector, NZNO members in public hospitals earn up to 20% more than their counterparts in aged care.

“While underfunding of the sector is a key factor in the low pay rates in aged care, unions have campaigned hard for a significant increase,” she said.

“During the 1990s the National government ran down aged care funding and introduced the Employment Contracts Act which devastated pay and conditions of the workforce. While Labour hasn’t yet done enough, 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,” she said.

Picket details are expected to be advised next week. In Auckland three New Zealand Life Care sites and Roskill Masonic workers will consider taking action at the same time unless mediation on 27 September is successful.

ENDS

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