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Intellectual Disability workers must be supported

Intellectual Disability Sector workers must be supported

Tariana Turia, Disability Issues spokesperson for the Maori Party

Friday 11 January 2008

Disability Issues spokesperson for the Maori Party, Tariana Turia, has spoken out in support of around 140 caregivers and nurses who have walked off the job in Christchurch in response to a funding freeze from the Ministry of Health.

The caregivers of some 85 residents of Brackenridge Estate (formerly Templeton Centre) have withdrawn their labour from 7am Friday (today) through to 7am Sunday, in response to ongoing low levels of pay, and insubstantial penal rates.

“These workers are caring for people with varying degrees of mental disabilities” said Mrs Turia. "It's often a labour of love, responding to severe physical needs and some challenging behaviours as part of everyday work".

“The caregivers must be recognised for the vital care they provide to ensure that the residents of Brackenridge are able to participate in the community and to enjoy a quality of life we would hope all New Zealanders are entitled to”.

“The caregivers frequently work extra shifts to cover staffing shortages, they don’t receive overtime for evenings or weekends, and yet many of them are paid only $14.50 an hour” said Mrs Turia.

“The people that work in the disability sector are often very special” said Mrs Turia. “And so I wasn’t surprised that the staff rejected the minimal pay increase of 1% on offer, because it would have meant cuts to training, maintenance and weekend outings for the residents”.

“To these workers, the fact that the residents would be deprived of outings - outings which they really value - was untenable” said Mrs Turia.

“We at the Maori Party commend their spirit of manaakitanga, their capacity to care” said Mrs Turia. “The work of these caregivers is critical and must be valued”.

“This Government has to front up with the funds to enable some decent rates of pay for this sector with some urgency” said Mrs Turia. “The Treasury forecast of an operating surplus of $6.43 billion through to June 2008 is surely evidence that the Government has the cash on hand to make a real difference”.


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