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Government leaving future and quality of aged care to chance

20 February 2013

Government leaving future and quality of aged care to chance

The Public Service Association says the government is leaving the future care of the elderly to chance by refusing to address underfunding, low pay and pay inequity in the aged care sector.

Parliament’s Health Select Committee has released its report on a petition presented by the New Zealand Nurses Organisation and the Service and Food Workers Union, calling for proper aged care funding.

The PSA represents support workers, coordinators and administration workers within the aged care home support sector.

It says the committee’s report is an insult to aged care workers and sweeps the concerns expressed by thousands of petitioners under the carpet.

“Rather than recommending that action be taken to address historic and moral issues of low pay and pay inequity, the committee simply suggests that the government should acknowledge the commendable work that those employed in the aged care sector carry out every day,” says PSA Assistant Secretary Kerry Davies.

“We all know they do valuable work but a simple acknowledgement is not good enough. These mainly women workers are providing care and support to our growing elderly population yet they continue to earn minimum wages and are at the sharp end of pay inequity.”

The select committee’s report follows on from the government’s failure to act on last year’s Human Rights Commission Inquiry into Equal Employment Opportunities in Aged Care. That inquiry said funding levels must increase as a matter of urgency to address the low pay and pay inequity facing workers who form the backbone of the aged care sector.

Kerry Davies says the government’s lack of action is also very short-sighted.

“As the population ages, New Zealand is going to need thousands more aged care workers. The government needs to step up to its responsibilities by increasing funding and improving pay and conditions in the sector, so we can be assured about the future and quality of care of the elderly,” she says.


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