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Brackenridge Negotiations Commence

Tuesday 30th September 2008

Brackenridge Negotiations Commence

“NUPE and NZNO union members at Brackenridge Estate commence negotiations with their employer tomorrow (Wednesday 1 October) in what appears to be an environment of chronic underfunding and crisis in the ID sector,” said Janice Gemmell, Senior Organiser with NUPE. “NUPE is concerned that this shortage of funding could result in another tense bargaining round.”

“The Government has promoted the vision of an ordinary life for those with an intellectual disability yet it appears they have failed to fund even the birth of the policy let alone the life to follow!” said Janice Gemmell. “The question that our members have for the Ministry and Government is what is the real cost of providing this ordinary life?”

“An ordinary life sounds wonderful – but its cost is significant. To enable an ordinary life in the community requires significant levels of support and this support costs money. The recent ERA decision on sleepovers where carers must be paid the minimum wage means that providers are now faced with a blow-out having to find an extra $50 or so a night per house, 365 days per year. Payment for sleepovers is a claim at our bargaining.”

“The employers group (National Intellectual Disability Providers Group – NRID) stated in May that the sector was on the verge of a crisis then due to poor funding, high staff turnover and an ageing workforce,” said Janice Gemmell

“Staff at Brackenridge Estate work with severely intellectually disabled residents. The typical staff member is currently paid around $15.00 per hour yet they are primary care givers for very vulnerable, dependant and at times violent residents,” said Janice Gemmell. “The sector relies heavily on the good will of incredibly committed staff – eventually this goodwill will run out.”

“Brackenridge staff took 48 hours of strike action in January bringing these issues to national attention and yet there is still a lack of proper Government funding which will mean it will be very difficult to settle our Agreement,” said Janice Gemmell.

“The Intellectually Disability sector needs to be revalued by our community. As a sector they are simply underfunded and underpaid. Nurses and carers in the DHB sector have been revalued by about 20% – it is the turn of workers in the intellectual disability sector. Yet we are instead facing a funding crisis.”


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