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Workers Reject 1% Pay Offer

16 December 2004

Workers Reject 1% Pay Offer From Booming Retirement Village Business

New Zealand Nurses Organisation and Service and Food Workers Union members at Summerset retirement villages in Wanganui, Levin, Paraparaumu, Waikanae, Trentham, Palmerston North, Havelock North and Taradale are withdrawing good will and will vote next week on possible strike action after rejecting the employer’s 1% pay offer.

Union members are working to rule, taking their breaks, prioritising work, going home on time, signing a petition and wearing arm bands to demonstrate their anger at the offer.

They are angry that, while Summerset’s business is booming, they are being offered a 1% increase for two years, which would deliver a maximum increase of $5 a week to caregivers and $7.74 a week to registered nurses.

“While most providers in the sector are struggling to survive, this provider has clearly got the money to pay staff fairly,” said Cee Payne-Harker, NZNO’s aged care coordinator.

Cee Payne-Harker said, although the sector generally was in a funding crisis, a few providers like Summerset were making substantial profits from property development.

“It is simply not acceptable for an employer who can afford to offer a pay increase to offer a miserable 1% and refuse to budge on the offer," she said.

SFWU spokesperson Stephanie Thomas said negotiations with Summerset began in October. The unions have claimed a 5% increase.

“Even a 5% increase would deliver less than $20 a week to the lowest paid Summerset employees,” said Stephanie Thomas.

“We believe this employer has the capacity to make a better offer,” she said.

“Summerset is a privately owned for profit business and the owner, John O’Sullivan, has frequently been reported in media describing the huge business success of Summerset, which has developed into a chain worth tens of millions of dollars and is embarking on several multi-million building and development projects.”

ENDS

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