Petrol prices last straw for home support workers
Home support workers are fed-up and quitting their jobs, blaming soaring petrol bills, precarious working hours, and poor working conditions.
E tū warns that the country’s aging population will suffer, and the cost of their care could sky-rocket, if the government doesn’t resolve support workers’ grievances and improve the quality of their jobs so care at home is viable for everyone.
There are about 22,000 home and community support workers providing care for predominantly older people in their homes.
E tū Home Support Coordinator, Kirsty McCully says support workers have won a series of court cases which were supposed to lead to regular, decent jobs.
Hard-won conditions included pay for travel time and petrol, guaranteed hours of work, and increases to pay rates thanks to the equal pay settlement.
But she says home support workers are still struggling financially.
“A lot of people aren’t getting guaranteed hours, which employers are supposed to provide, or their guaranteed hours are being regularly cut, so their work is still precarious. And payments for petrol and travel time are grossly inadequate,” she says.
“What’s at stake here is the future of a workforce that does the vital work of caring for our most vulnerable in their homes.”
Home Support worker and E tū delegate, Jenny Stewart says support workers are fed up.
“Yes, we got equal pay, in-between travel and guaranteed hours, but it hasn’t gelled, and we’ve got a lot of grievances.
“You get 50 cents a kilometre to cover the cost of fuel and vehicle costs, but with prices so high we can’t afford that. People are leaving because their incomes aren’t reliable, and the costs and risks involved for us just keep growing.
“What gets us big time is that we’re subsidising a government-funded service and it’s not fair that we’re paying that out of our own pockets.”
Jenny says the demand for home support services is set to soar over the coming years, and it’s time to consider how to provide proper jobs which attract and retain skilled carers.
“Everyone has to make sure these jobs become regular, decent jobs where someone goes in to work, does the job, and can rely on the pay they get. I know there are challenges, but people have to come up with a solution.
“Because if it’s not sorted out, there won’t be anyone to provide that care.”