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'Women in work' PM should listen to aged care

8 February 2005

'Women in work' PM should listen to aged care call

Green MPs Sue Kedgley and Sue Bradford say that if the Prime Minister is serious about getting more women into work she could start by listening to the aged-care unions' call to her for an increase in Government funding for their sector.

Tomorrow, members of the NZ Nurses' Organisation and the Service and Food Workers Union who work in rest homes, long-stay hospitals and dementia units will be targeting the Prime Minister by asking the public to sign postcards to her as part of a Day of Action seeking a fair share for aged care in the next Budget.

"If the Government wants to get women into paid work, then women's work has to be properly paid," said Ms Kedgley, the Green Party's Health and Women's Affairs Spokesperson.

"At the moment, aged-care is a classic example of an industry with a predominantly female workforce that has been consistently undervalued and underpaid. It is a serious pay equity issue."

"The unions and providers have been warning for some time that the aged-care sector is in crisis, and the Greens have consistently supported their call for a substantial increase in funding," said Ms Bradford, the Greens' Industrial Relations and Community and Voluntary Sector Spokesperson.

"The Greens strongly support the NZNO and SFWU's call for increased Government funding to address aged-care staffing levels and training and to provide fair pay for nurses, caregivers and support workers.

"Tomorrow is the unions' Day of Action and workers will be out in communities throughout the country. We call on the public to sign their postcard to the Prime Minister."

The Government has increased funding by three per cent, but District Health Boards NZ is refusing to pass it on to the charitable sector unless they agree to contract changes. "This is outrageous."

"Not only is the three per cent funding increase woefully inadequate, but its been caught up in an argument between the District Health Boards and the providers. The workers are being left behind in this scrap.

"Meanwhile third sector, charitable providers are going under and profit-driven operations are taking their place. Is that really what a Labour Government wants?"

Ms Kedgley: "The news today that in the last decade New Zealand's over-65 population grew by 17.3 per cent and the number of over-90s by 66.2 per cent shows that the need for aged care has grown and it will only continue to increase as the baby boomers hit retirement age. Ultimately it is in everyone's interest for aged care to be properly funded."


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