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Rest Home Caregivers claim case

Media Release (For immediate release)

Rest Home Caregivers claim they are lowly paid because they are women

The Employment Court is currently deciding whether employees at Riverleigh Rest Home in Lower Hutt are paid less because they are women.

“As 92% of the 33,700 rest home caregivers are women, the Employment Court’s decision has the potential to affect the entire industry,” says Max Whitehead, CEO of Small Business Voice.

Mr. Whiteheads says that the decision will have ramifications for other professions dominated by one gender, such as the police, trades and hairdressing.

Riverleigh Home employs 106 female and four male caregivers — all paid around $13.75 to $15.00 per hour. The minimum wage in New Zealand is currently set at $13.75 per hour.

“Our taxes fund these employees’ wages and the majority of other Rest Home employees via their local District Health Boards,” says Mr. Whitehead.

This pay equity case is being taken very seriously, not only by the unions but also the Employment Court judges who sat on the preliminary decision. Other participants who appeared before the court were Business NZ, the Council of Trade Unions, Aged Care Association, the Human Rights Commission, the Council of Trade Workers Union and the Pay Equity Challenge Coalition.

Mr. Whitehead says that the outcome of this case has the potential to cost tax payers billions of dollars.

“In terms of a fair wage for the responsibility and work done, perhaps it is time these caregivers were taken off the bottom shelf — particularly as most of us one day will need their services,” he says.

Mr. Whitehead says that union stakeholders have other agendas. He says that for decades they have being powerless at wage negotiations because the DHBs control the funding for wages and would never involve themselves in the bargaining process. He says the unions are desperately looking for any means to boost their members’ wages.

Mr. Whitehead: “If this case results in the caregivers and others getting wage increases, the Government won’t be able to afford to ignore it because the cost will eventually land back on all taxpayers."



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