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No Christmas Present For Disability Workers In Mini Budget Means Crisis Point Looming In New Year

The disability sector had hoped for a commitment from the Government to fund Pay Equity for care and support workers in the Mini Budget, but has been left empty-handed, says New Zealand Disability Support Network CEO Peter Reynolds.

"The 65,000 Kiwi care and support workers deserve to be paid fairly for the help they provide hundreds of thousands of disabled, elderly and unwell New Zealanders," says Reynolds.

"Disability providers have been working with the unions and government agencies to settle a Pay Equity deal that would deliver for these underpaid workers and help address the crippling workforce shortage in this sector. Disability providers are mostly government-funded - we want to pay our staff more, but the Government must give us the means to do so first.”

"This Pay Equity process has been frozen since July, waiting on Cabinet to sign off on the money needed. We had hoped that the Mini Budget would contain a commitment from the Government to settling the claim. Pay equity is still listed as an " unquantifiable contingent liability" for the government.”

"Our sector is at a crisis point with legislation covering care and support workers expiring on 31 December. We expect workers to start taking providers to court to be paid fairly - if that happens, disability services won't have the money to pay for any higher wages the courts award. We will have providers cutting services and going out of business.

"Funding the Pay Equity settlement must be at the top of Cabinet's agenda when it next meets," says Reynolds.

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