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Caregivers equal pay case now “unstoppable”

MEDIA RELEASE: SERVICE AND FOOD WORKERS UNION

3 February 2014

Caregivers equal pay case now “unstoppable”

“Caregivers will take another step towards equal pay with workers in male-dominated occupations today, and women all over the country will be keenly watching,” said Service and Food Workers Union (SFWU) central region president and caregiver, Marianne Bishop, today.

Marianne Bishop was speaking before today’s Court of Appeal hearing of Lower Hutt caregiver Kristine Bartlett’s historic equal pay case.

In August SFWU, with the support of the New Zealand Nurses Organisation, went to the Employment Court to argue that Kristine (who is paid $14.45 after over 20 years caregiving) was low paid because she was a female worker in a female-dominated industry and this is breach of the Equal Pay Act (1972).

A full bench of the Employment Court ruled in Kristine’s favour.  Her employer, Terra Nova, appealed the decision.  

“The decision was clear and opens up the way for an end to the poverty pay that has trapped the tens of thousands of women who care for our nation’s elderly,” said Marianne Bishop.

“While we are disappointed that the decision has been appealed, our union is confident the Appeal Court will uphold the ruling and when that is done the Service and Food Workers Union and the New Zealand Nurses Organisation can sit down with employers and determine the true value of carers.”

An estimated 30,000 women work in supporting the elderly and were typically paid little more than the minimum wage for a job that is skilled, demanding and at the heart of a decent society. 

“Kristine has stood up and behind her are thousands of other caregivers, “ Marianne Bishop said. “Hundreds of other caregivers have now filed their own equal pay cases and our journey towards equal pay is now unstoppable”

SFWU spokesperson, Alastair Duncan said how the Government responds to the case would be a test of its commitment to the lives and interests of older New Zealanders. 

“The Government is the funder but this government has its head in the sand for the past two years since the Human Right commission condemned the poverty pay in the aged care sector.  This is the time to put an end to underfunding and undervaluing those who care for our elderly,” he said.

ENDS

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