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Good Employers Reap the Rewards

New Zealand Nurses Organisation
Media Release

23 May 2008

Good Employers Reap the Rewards

Auckland’s religious and welfare based Aged Care providers are showing the way forward for industrial relations in the sector, fostering a respectful and productive relationship with their workforce that has resulted in enviable staff retention rates, 100% occupancy and a waiting list for their services.

Howick Baptist Health has recently settled collective employment agreements with members of the NZ Nurses Organisation and Service and Food Workers Union: Nga Ringa Tota. The settlement sees nurses receive a 4% pay increase and caregivers a 3.5% increase.

The settlement will see the top rate for caregivers reach $16.28/hr with most caregivers on $15.83 or $16.00/hr. This compares with the rate of $12.55/hr that DHBs last year attempted to set as a minimum for the industry but which many employers resisted, going as far as taking an expensive Judicial Review against the DHBs to enforce their right to pay bare minimum wages.

Registered Nurses at Howick Baptist Health now have a top pay rate of $25.43/hr, with Enrolled Nurses able to receive $19.70/hr.

“For most caregivers in New Zealand’s Aged Care sector, $16.00/hr seems like a bit of a dream,” says NZNO Co-ordinating Organiser Carol Gilmour. “This deal shows that it is possible, if the employer treats their staff as an asset and recognises the benefits to their standard of care of having staff that remain long enough to get to know their residents and facility well.

“Too many caregivers and nurses find the dismal wages in Aged Care are not enough reward for the skill and dedication required of them. When there are easier jobs paying more, they ask themselves why on earth they should stay.”

“Our members at Howick Baptist Health have plenty of reasons to stay. Their employer takes good care of its carers.”

While some other employers in the sector have been fiddling with KiwiSaver and attempting to make their employees pay for employer contributions, Howick Baptist Health have taken up a union proposal to offer a “2+2” arrangement in the collective agreement. Union members will be able to contribute 2% of their wages to KiwiSaver while their employer tops up the other 2% to reach the minimum 4% contribution. This currently costs the employer nothing for any staff earning less than $52,000 a year in total, thanks to the Government’s employer tax credit.

“The 2+2 arrangement costs the employer nothing but makes KiwiSaver so much more accessible to their workers who find it hard to put that money aside. What we have here is an employer who has the interests of their staff at heart and is reaping the rewards for that approach,” says Carol Gilmour.


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