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Equal pay case gets bigger

Equal pay case gets bigger, with thousands more caregivers expected to join

Unions representing thousands of aged care workers have begun legal proceedings under the Equal Pay Act against the countries’ major rest home chains. Unions claim that the very low pay endemic in the residential aged care sector is because of the gender of the workers in that sector.

The Service and Food Workers Union Nga Ringa Tota (SFWU) and the New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) are filing applications today in the Employment Relations Authority against BUPA, Metlifecare, Oceania, Presbyterian Support, Radius and Ryman healthcare.

SFWU organiser Penny Clark says, “Not everybody wants to go to court right before Christmas but caregivers do. They are signing up to take these cases because they know they won’t be paid fairly until the gender pay gap is closed. The time to do that is now.”

“Kristine Bartlett took a case for equal pay earlier in the year, and even though it’s being appealed, we are confident that she’ll win. That’s why we expect thousands of caregivers all around the country to take cases too.”

“An estimated 30,000 women working in aged care have been underpaid and undervalued for too long.”

NZNO industrial adviser for aged care, David Wait says, “The cases we’re filing today are just the beginning. Over the next year we expect thousands of caregivers in be involved in legal action demanding equal pay.”

“The work caregivers and health care assistants do for our vulnerable elderly is incredibly important in our society. We will all lose if we don’t recognise the value of the work with a fair and decent pay rate that’s equal to what would be paid if the sector were male-dominated.”

“Although we’re taking cases against the employers, we know that a big part of achieving equal pay is for the Government to step up and fund these residential aged care providers properly. We’re hoping this legal action will encourage the Government to do the right thing.”

ENDS.

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