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Residential care home firm hoarding public cash

CTU media release
26 November 2009

Residential care home firm hoarding public cash meant for wages

The Government’s own unfair wage policies on the low paid are spreading to the private aged care sector, said the CTU today, in support of the New Zealand Nurses Association and Service and Food Workers Union dispute with employer Presbyterian Support Central (PSC).

CTU President Helen Kelly said: “Despite receiving a 5% funding increase from DHBs specifically to deal with poor staff retention caused by low pay, PSC has so far passed none of this on to essential care staff and is offering only a 3% increase to workers earning barely more than the minimum wage.”

“The Minister of Health has already stated to aged care providers that the ‘constantly rotating parade of nurses and healthcare assistants does nothing for the quality of care’ of residents. Where then is the accountability for this misuse of taxpayers’ money?”

“The Ministry of Health was quick enough to investigate the hoarding of government cash by Primary Health Organisations recently. When is the Minister going to tell PSC and others to spend the money it received in July on its intended purpose?”

Low wages in the sector are at the root of high staff turnover leading to the kind of failures of care exposed in recent media coverage. Yet it is common for funding increases intended for wages to be only partially passed on to workers – or even in some cases, not at all. Workers carrying out more than 90% of the hands-on care of residents are paid as little as $12.97 an hour.

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The NZNO and SFWU have announced a series of strikes at 15 PSC care homes in the lower North Island, beginning on 3 December.

“The whole union movement is disturbed by the lack of accountability for taxpayer funding in residential aged care and by the appallingly low wages that are paid to the people doing this important work. Unions are therefore offering their support on pickets to support the strike action,” concluded Kelly.


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