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Don't forget pay rise for rest home nurses

Fri, 17 Dec 2004

Don't forget pay rise for rest home nurses - Greens

Green Party Health Spokesperson Sue Kedgley has welcomed the $380 million national pay deal offered to nurses and midwives but she says the Government must be pressured to lift the wages of rest home nurses.

Ms Kedgley and Industrial Relations Spokesperson Sue Bradford are pushing hard for District Health Boards and the Government to immediately increase funding allocated to the rest home sector. They argue that the gap between regular hospital nurses and those working in rest homes is widening disproportionately.

While the two MPs believe nurses and midwives deserve every dollar of the 20 to 30 per cent pay rise on offer, they fear that rest home nurses will leave the industry in droves if the discrepancy between their wages and those of nurses working in hospitals governed by DHBs, is not closed.

"It worries us deeply that the safety and care of vulnerable, elderly New Zealanders remains at risk despite this fantastic move forward for nurses in general," said Ms Kedgley.

"Why would nurses caring for the elderly in rest homes want to remain there if they can earn so much more working in a public hospital? It won't be long before they vote with their feet."

"This is also a very good time for the Government to put a stop to the abuse of 20,000 mostly female home-care workers. We have an industry in crisis. Rock bottom wages and appalling work conditions are forcing home-care workers to walk away.

"As long as they receive no reimbursement of their travel costs, some are effectively earning as little as $4 to $5 an hour.

"If the Government doesn't close the wage discrepancy between nurses and look after the interests of highly valuable, unskilled workers caring for our elderly, a huge section of our population will be at serious risk."

The two MPs are calling for the Government to play fair with nurses, home care worker and caregivers working in the aged care industry across the board.


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