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Unions File Pay Equity Claim For 65,000 Care And Support Workers

A second pay equity claim has been filed for care and support workers by their unions - the Public Service Association Te Pūkenga Here Tikanga Mahi, E tū, the National Union of Public Employees and New Zealand Nurses Organisation Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa.

"We’re raising this claim because 65,000 people providing care and support for the most vulnerable in our communities are being underpaid by the Government and employers who undervalue their work because it has primarily been done by women," says Melissa Woolley PSA Assistant Secretary.

"This is a skilled workforce taking care of people with professionalism and skill. These are people, many with complex health or support needs who every day rely on the dedicated support these workers provide. They make a huge difference to their lives."

The claim covers those working at over a hundred employers in home-based support services, aged residential care, mental health and addictions, and disability support services.

This is the second pay equity claim filed for this group. The original claim was filed with 15 employers covering around a third of the workforce which the unions say has been stalled by delaying tactics from lead funder Te Whatu Ora.

"From the outset, unions and employers in the original claim have called for all care and support workers to receive a settlement at the same time using the funded sector framework extension mechanism put in place by the outgoing Government, and for the Care and Support Settlement Act be extended," says Glenda Alexander NZNO Manager Industrial Services.

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"Every care and support worker in Aotearoa deserves pay equity. Without the assurance the new Government will continue the funded framework, raising a second claim will help make sure no one is left behind."

It has long been acknowledged that care and support workers are paid less because of gender-based pay discrimination.

"Workers have been left waiting for far too long for that injustice to be rectified, going to work every day knowing they’re paid less than what they’re worth," says Rachel Mackintosh E tū National Secretary.

"The National-led Government has a huge opportunity to continue what they delivered for care and support workers after extensive legal action in 2017. Since that landmark case, care and support workers’ pay rates have been eroded back to the minimum wage for many."

"We are calling on the Government to prioritise pay equity to stabilise the care and support sector which is in crisis, causing stress and pain to workers and the people and whānau they care for," says Janice Gemmel NUPE National Secretary.

"The current Care and Support Workers (Pay Equity) Settlement Act 2017 expires on 31 December, which will see workers in limbo regarding training and payrates. The incoming government has the opportunity to extend the Act under urgency to maintain the wins of the 2017 deal.

"The reality is there are underlying sexist and outdated misconceptions about this work getting in the way of a just settlement for all care and support workers."

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