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Workers in aged care sector deserve more

Workers in aged care sector deserve more

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) and the Service and Food Workers Union: Ngā Ringa Tota (SFWU) are preparing to go into negotiations next week with the two biggest residential aged care providers in New Zealand, Oceania and Bupa. NZNO and SFWU represent over 3000 health workers in 101 aged care residential facilities owned by Oceania and Bupa.

Bupa is a UK based company whose “Care Services” arm alone made a 2010 surplus of £139.1 million (NZ$265 million). Bupa's total profit for 2010 was £465.3 million (NZ$886 million). Oceania is owned by the Australian Macquarie Bank and last reported a profit on their New Zealand operations of $16.2 million. Profits from the company’s New Zealand operations are returned to the offshore owners.

NZNO industrial advisor Rob Haultain explains what the situation is like for workers in the aged care sector, “Aged care health workers earn significantly less for doing the same job than their colleagues who work for DHBs, with most earning well under the average wage. We are hoping that Oceania and Bupa will come to the table with a fair pay offer that reflects the contribution workers make to their massive profits.”

“The CPI has risen by 5.3 percent over the last year and this means that workers have lost over $25 per week off their take home pay. Petrol has gone up 20.1 percent and food is up 7.5 percent so the value of our members’ wages has been significantly eroded over the last year.”

“Health Care Assistants are paid an average wage of $14.55 after 3 years service – meaning a take home pay of $472.03 per week. Many of our members are left with only $70 a week once their rent is paid. That is not acceptable,” Haultain says.

“We certainly hope that these two employers understand the direct relationship between retaining valued staff by paying fairly, and the quality of care that residents receive. We know that the Minister of Health, Tony Ryall, understands this relationship. He has long been reported as saying that ‘a constantly rotating parade of healthcare workers does nothing for the quality of care of residents’.”

“Let’s hope the two biggest residential aged care providers in NZ also understand this relationship and share their significant riches with our members!”

New Zealand Nurses Organisation

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) is the leading professional body of nurses and nursing union in Aotearoa New Zealand, representing over 45 000 nurses and health workers. Te Runanga o Aotearoa is the arm through which our Te Tiriti o Waitangi partnership is articulated. Our members include nurses, midwives, students, kaimahi hauora, health care workers and allied health professionals.

The NZNO vision is “Freed to care, Proud to nurse”. Our members enhance the health and wellbeing of all people of Aotearoa New Zealand and are united in their professional and industrial aspirations.

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