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Give home-care workers a fair deal - Greens

2 December 2004

Give home-care workers a fair deal - Greens

The Green Party says elderly being looked after in their own homes will become increasingly vulnerable if the Government doesn't step in and look after those caring for them.

Green Health Spokesperson Sue Kedgley says rock bottom wages and appalling work conditions are forcing home-care workers to walk away from an industry already in crisis.

Ms Kedgley was Deputy Chair of the Health Select Committee that investigated the conditions of home care workers following the lodging of two petitions calling for an increase in homecare wages. Their report was released today.

She said it was shocking that home-care workers were expected to provide their own transport and pay their travel costs from their meagre wages.

"Effectively, they are being treated like third-world workers and we call on the Government to put a stop to this abuse of home-care workers," Ms Kedgley said. "District Health Boards must be required to reimburse home-care workers' travel costs.

Ms Kedgley said the Health Select Committee was warned that the sector could 'hit melt down' at Christmas time, if urgent action was not taken to significantly increase home care worker's wages.

"We are extremely concerned this will put the safety and care of vulnerable, elderly New Zealanders at risk."

Ms Kedgley said the excessively high turnover of home-care workers, (88% in some areas) and the number of providers who were pulling out of the market due to under-funding in the sector, was also putting the safety of elderly New Zealanders at risk.

Green Industrial Relations Spokesperson Sue Bradford backed Ms Kedgley's call for action saying the cost of driving between clients could see some workers, in effect, receiving as little as $4-$5 an hour.

ENDS

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