Hospitals workers fight for fair deal
Hospital cleaners, kitchen and food workers, orderlies, home aids and other service workers will hold a series of pickets nationwide this Wednesday to support their claims for a living wage and one national collective agreement.
The Service and Food Workers Union Nga Ringa Tota represents nearly 2800 service workers in public hospitals, and is currently negotiating for one national collective agreement with District Health Boards and contract companies who provide services in public hospitals.
"Our jobs are a very important part of anyone's hospital stay and we are worth much more than the low wages we are paid," said Trish Kidd, a food worker at Invercargill Hospital. "A national MECA is the only way we can get the consistent pay rates across the country and the fair pay we deserve."
SFWU Nga Ringa Tota Advocate, Shane Vugler said the District Health Boards and health contract companies such as Spotless Services are resisting a Multi-Employer Collective Agreement (MECA).
"District Health Boards are treating their service workers like second class staff" said Shane Vugler
"The reluctance of DHB's to negotiating a MECA puts them in conflict with their legal obligations under the Employment Relations Act to negotiate MECAs in the health sector where practicable and reasonable to do so."
Other groups of health workers who have Multi Employer Collective Agreements include nurses, doctors, and allied health workers.
In March this year some hospital service workers employed by Spotless received a pay increase when the minimum wage was increased to $10.25 per hour. Members of the Service and Food Workers Union Nga Ringa Tota took action to highlight that the minimum wage is not good enough for this work in public hospitals.
Healthy Pay for Healthy Hospitals
The Service and Food Workers Union Nga Ringa Tota has launched a national campaign for a Multi-Employer Collective Agreement (MECA) for all service workers in public hospitals and a "living wage and a fair deal"
Service workers include: cleaners; orderlies; kitchen and food service workers; home support workers. Most of the service workers in public hospitals are women
Some SFWU members received a pay increase when the statutory minimum wage increased to $10.25 on March 27 and many are still on less than $10.59 an hour
Employers covered by the proposed MECA include District Health Boards and contractors Spotless Services Ltd., Compass Group and OCS
DHBNZ has stated they will not recommend a MECA to their members
The Employment Relations Act includes a Code of Good Faith for Public Health Sector, requiring DHB's to support collective bargaining, including MECAs "where it is practical and reasonable to do so". ERA schedule B clause 6(1)
SFWU currently negotiates over 40 separate collective employment agreements (CEA's) with DHB's and contractors for service workers in public hospitals throughout New Zealand.