Today, on the historic first ever International Day for Care and Support, the Public Service Association Te Pūkenga Here Tikanga Mahi (PSA), E tū, and the New Zealand Nurses Organisation Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa (NZNO) are calling for the incoming government to prioritise pay equity.
"International Day for Care and Support is about valuing and recognising people who deliver essential healthcare in our communities," says PSA Assistant Secretary Melissa Woolley.
"Today is particularly important for Aotearoa’s 65,000 care and support workers. As the new Government takes shape, they’re anticipating the outcome of their pay equity claim."
The three unions filed a pay equity claim in July of 2022. The claim has been halted by Te Whatu Ora in its final stages as they seek a review of milestone reports that had already been completed and signed off.
"It has been established that they’re being paid less than what they’re worth because their industry has been dominated by women and undervalued by funders and employers," says Woolley.
"These workers care for people day-in and day-out. They shower people, make sure their medication is right, operate hoists to lift them from bed, and perform a huge range of other tasks that are essential to vulnerable people being able to live with dignity," says E tū Assistant National Secretary Rachel Mackintosh.
"They are currently receiving low wages and have no certainty of when they can expect wages that reflect the true value of their mahi."
"This day recognises the requirement to resource the care economy so that we have disability-inclusive and age-sensitive care and support systems ready to meet the needs of our aging population," says Mackintosh.
"One of the most effective interventions we can make to strengthen community health support for whānau is pay equity for care and support workers. Pay equity will strengthen the quality, access, and reliability of services for disabled people, older people, and those experiencing illness, injury, addiction, or mental health needs," says NZNO delegate Trish McKillop.
The unions launched an open letter this month calling for funders of care and support work, including Te Whatu Ora, to stop unjust delays to pay equity for care and support workers.
The letter has been signed by more than 5000 people including Kristine Bartlett, Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Saunoamaali’I Dr Karanina Sumeo, and groups like Auckland Women’s Centre, Grey Power, and Alzheimer’s New Zealand.
"We’re celebrating the 65,000 people, mostly women, doing this work on this historic day. We’re asking people to show their support for care and support workers by signing the open letter calling on their pay equity claim to be funded, and for the delays to end," says McKillop.
"We look forward to meeting with the new Government to efficiently progress pay equity for care and support workers," Woolley concludes.