fair share AU t u m n / W i n t e r 2 0 1 4
N e w s F o r N Z N O a n d S F W U M e m b e r s W o r k i n g In A g e d C a r e
Welcome to the Autumn/Winter 2014 edition of Fair Share News.
In this Fair Share News we have a big feature on what has been happening in the All the way for equal pay campaign. Caregivers Week was in March, and lots of workplace activities took place in facilities from Whangarei to Gore, and lots of places in between. At these gatherings, and throughout the campaign, discussion has been occurring about what we need to do to win equal pay and increase funding to the sector. Other aged care staff, such as cooks, registered nurses, activity officers and diversional therapists are also involved in the All the way for equal pay campaign by signing our pledge cards and supporting the caregivers and healthcare assistants they work with. Check out our article about valuing caregivers and healthcare assistants. Read about the All the way for equal pay courses NZNO and SFWU delegates have been attending and find out what some of our aged care employers have been doing around the equal pay case and the funding situation in the sector. Remember the General Election is on 20 September 2014. Make sure you are enrolled to vote, so we can all have a say about equal pay and the funding issues within our sector. Ross Home caregivers celebrate caregivers week in style
All the way fo Sign up a friend Equal Pay campaigner Kristine Bartlett teamed up with three colleagues recently to visit rest homes across the lower half of the North Island. Oceania delegates Paula O’Reilly and Nicole Martin were joined by homecare delegate Tamara Baddeley. “It's been great,” says Nicole. “We are going into rest homes which are new to us but where the issues and the interest in the All the way for equal pay campaign are so familiar”. The team signed up nearly 100 members to the case and are now committed to reaching out to non members to join the campaign. Organiser Penny Clark says the delegates took time off work for a week to do their bit for the All the way for equal pay campaign. “Because Nicole and the team are doing the same job they had a real connection with other carers,” says Penny.
Member organisers are also active in Auckland so if you want to be part of the team, let your SFWU organiser know!
Sign up non members Caring for the elderly is rewarding work in one of the fastest growing sectors in New Zealand but the funding and the pay is far too little. Every day caregivers, healthcare assistants, and other aged care workers make a difference for our residents. Today is the day to reach out to your colleagues, at your workplace and across the country, and ask them to join the campaign to help win equal pay by becoming a member. Ask your NZNO or SFWU delegates and organiser about how you can make a difference by talking to your colleagues about joining.
or Equal Pay! Lights, Camera, Action! Caregivers on screen Move over Peter Jackson and the Hobbits! We’ve got a much better story to tell and one that has as much drama and a lot more humans A new film about how we are going All the way for equal pay! has just been released. It shares Kristine Bartlett’s story and that of thousands of other women. Designed to be shown to small and large audiences, the film looks at the campaign and includes comments from aged care workers, union leaders and economists. To arrange a screening at your work or home, talk with your organiser or contact SFWU, 0800 864 661 or NZNO, 0800 28 38 48.
“What about me?”
Equal pay and ‘other’ workers With over 1,000 healthcare assistants and caregivers now signed on to a case to go All the way for equal pay, members in other occupational groups may be thinking “What about me?” Kristine Bartlett’s case is about whether or not a job such as a healthcare assistant is or is not “exclusively or predominantly” done by women. The good news is just about every other job in aged care is covered by those criteria, from cleaning to laundry to kitchen work. When caregivers and healthcare assistants win equal pay, then other workers will also be involved.
It canâ€™t be done without our delegates All the way for equal pay â€“ first sign ups for Canterbury Two weeks before Christmas 2013, NZNO aged care organisers in Christchurch asked delegates from three aged care sites to do what seemed almost impossible! Delegates from BUPA Bethesda, BUPA Cashmere View and Radius St Winifred were asked to talk with their union co-workers and sign them up to the NZNO and SFWU All the way for equal pay campaign. The delegates were enthusiastic and understood completely why it is important for everyone to get involved. They know that wages for aged care workers are unjustifiably low and the impact this has on them and their families. Within two weeks, Lynda Deeming, a brand new delegate from Radius St Winifred, Carolyn Maslin and Liz Fleming from BUPA had all the healthcare assistants and caregivers on their sites signed up. SFWU and NZNO members know intuitively this is the right thing to do and signed authorisation forms for the equal pay legal case to be progressed on their behalf. At these sites many registered nurses, enrolled nurses, activity officers, diversional therapists and support workers signed pledge cards in support of their colleagues. They know that healthcare assistants and caregivers are part of the team and deserve a fair share. This year NZNO and SFWU delegates, like Lynda Deeming, Liz Fleming, Carolyn Maslin, Rachel Moore and Veronica Enriquez, have continued to do this important work as part of the Equal Pay Campaign. Without our delegates the campaign would simply not be happening. Thank you for your continued work!
Tokoroa Lifecare, Victoria Place is where it is all happening! At Tokoroa Lifecare some core union work has been happening. Recently a group of members gathered to share afternoon tea and discuss how undervalued our caregivers feel, but also how they could improve their pay and staffing levels. They identified increasing the number of caregiver members as important. As staff walked past they started asking them if they were members. If any were not, the members discussed the All the way for equal pay campaign and the very important reasons why they need to join now. The importance of the All the way for equal pay campaign is being discussed with more caregivers, three new members have joined, and one of the delegates is following up three caregivers who are thinking about joining. A new delegate has been found and is attending our All the way for equal pay education course. The members want to have regular union meetings which will be run by the delegates. At this worksite, like at many others, there is a real feeling of unity and an understanding of the importance of growing their membership in a bid to get a real reward for the real work they do! Kia kaha, Tēnā rāwā atu koe Me te mihi nui
Alert! Minimum wage increase – 1 April 2014 From 1 April 2014 the adult minimum wage rate increased to $14.25 an hour. Before this the minimum wage was $13.75 per hour. The Starting-out Wage and training minimum wage also increased to $11.40 an hour. Before this a minimum wage rate of $11.00 per hour applied. These wage rates set the minimum pay anyone over 16 years can be paid per hour by law in New Zealand. If you are on the minimum wage rates, and your pay has not increased since 1 April 2014, speak with your manager. If your pay is still not increased then call your union.
It’s Election year! Make sure you vote in the 2014 General Election The 2014 General Election is on 20 September 2014. You will be able to vote on Election Day and during the two weeks before. The election gives us an important voice in the future direction of Aotearoa New Zealand. At the last election, over 800,000 New Zealanders did not vote when they could have. We don’t want that to happen again!
Enrolling to vote To make sure that you can take part in the 2014 General Election, the first step is to enrol to vote or check and update your enrolment details. If you are not enrolled, you cannot vote. It is really easy to enrol to vote. If you have moved recently, for example, it is also easy to check your enrolment details and update these. If your enrolment details are not correct, then your vote might not count. The Electoral Commission enrols people to vote. To enrol to vote either: ͙͙ text your name and address to 3676 and they will send an enrolment pack. They send a confirmation text too. You can also update your enrolment details using this pack ͙͙ call 0800 36 76 56 (24 Hour Electoral Commission Freephone) and they will send out an enrolment pack. They can talk about your eligibility to vote in the 2014 General Election and help you to update your enrolment details ͙͙ go to their website www.elections.org.nz to enrol on-line. You can also check or update your enrolment details on-line ͙͙ pick up an enrolment form from a NZ Post Shop. Once you have enrolled to vote, talk to your family and friends and make sure they are enrolled to vote. It is your right to vote in 2014 General Election so make sure you do!
Celebrating Caregivers week in Bay of Plenty Marion Guy, NZNO President, writes about her visit to two aged care facilities in Bay of Plenty during Caregivers week. The last week of March is Caregivers Week. Angela Neil, NZNO Organiser, and I visited Mary Shapley Rest Home and Hospital in Whakatane, and Mountain View Rest Home and Hospital in Kawerau. In Whakatane, we celebrated Caregivers Week with 25 caregivers and a feast of homemade food. We discussed issues which are important to them, including equal pay, staffing and conditions. In Kawarau we were treated to a lunch made especially for the celebration by members and their employer. They made us very welcome and I was treated to a tour of the facility by the manager Jeanette Crook. It was great to hear their stories and to see where some of our caregivers are working and the challenges they face. The staff seemed very happy in their work with a number telling me that they loved working at Mountain View. From these visits, we recruited three new members with interest from a number of others. Members were keen to hear about the All the way for equal pay campaign and talk about the bargaining issues they would like addressed this year. Pay rates and staffing are still the number one issues, with more tasks added to their workloads, residentsâ€™ needs becoming more complex and requiring more time. It seems that a lot of caregivers work unpaid over time, come in on their days off, do mending, take residents for drives or just spend time with them. There is the ongoing need to raise the profile of NZNO and SFWU in Aged Care and address the inequity for those working within the Aged Care sector. I really enjoyed spending time with the members and staff at both facilities. A special thank you to Elma from Whakatane for the lovely doughnuts, buns and spaghetti, and to Aileen from Kawerau for the delightful spring rolls and wontons. NZNO president, Marion Guy (right) enjoys a caregivers week feast with Bay of Plenty caregivers.
? Three aged care companies, which are privately owned, make profit, and are listed on the New Zealand Stock Market, have been in the news recently reporting record profits. Ryman Healthcare, Summerset and Metlifecare employ thousands of staff, many of whom are SFWU and NZNO members. As profit making companies their shares are brought and sold every day on the sharemarket. In recent months all three companies saw their shares rise by as much as 25-30% prompting strong interest from TV and newspaper reporters. For shareholders, or the owners, this was good news but these record profits also send mixed messages to the government whom funding provide most of aged care workers’ wages. Union advocate Alastair Duncan says the share increase is a mixed blessing. “On the one hand it shows that there is money to be made in aged care for some providers. On the other we have to be careful that this information is not used by politicians to avoid properly funding the sector.” Alastair says staff at the three companies are right to be pushing their employers for better pay but that the real target remains the government. Alastair says, “If carers only get pay rises when their employers make a profit, then staff would be in real trouble when these companies don’t. The current arrangement, which stops aged care providers charging residents high costs in exchange for government funding, is a fairer system. “Yes, these companies can and should do better than the struggling church-run homes but at the same time we need the government to put an end to the low funding and wages.” Funding increases in the last two years has been slashed by the government from a “high” of 1.73% in 2012, to just 0.65% this year. “We’re supposed to be in an economic boom. In aged care it’s more like a burst bubble,” says Alastair.
Watch out for the NZ Aged Care Workforce Survey The AUT University is doing a New Zealand Aged Care Workforce Survey. This survey will provide a national picture of the workforce and work trends in the Aged Care Sector. It will provide useful information for planning and developing policy in relation to the aged care jobs that you do. The survey will be in your facilities during April and May. The survey is anonymous and you will not be identified. Ask your facility manager for the survey. If your manager does not have enough surveys, contact Dr Katherine Ravenswood, AUT University, at firstname.lastname@example.org. It is important that aged care workers do the survey because it is an opportunity for you to have a say in the future of the sector you work in.
Valuing caregivers and healthcare assistants in aged care Lorraine Ritchie, Registered Nurse and NZNO professional nursing adviser, reflects on the valuable work Caregivers and Healthcare Assistants do within aged care. “I worked as a caregiver for two years before I trained to be a registered nurse (RN). Once I was an RN, I eventually returned to the aged care setting working alongside caregivers and healthcare assistants in the delivery of care to residents. As a nurse, I relied on caregivers and healthcare assistants. They were the eyes and ears of the facility. They knew the residents best, were observant and were able to report changes and concerns about residents. Caregivers and healthcare assistants often had close and caring relationships with residents and in recent research I have carried out, they told me that the residents are the main reason for going back to work each day. This work isn’t always easy or well paid. Nurses in aged care value the contribution and difference that caregivers and healthcare assistants make. We know that they are the glue that holds rest homes and aged care hospitals together. Without them, nurses would not be able to do their work and residents would not receive personalised and quality care. So thank you caregivers and healthcare assistants from all the gerontology or aged care nurses out there. You rock!!”
Two-faced or a bob both ways? How employers are responding to the Equal Pay challenge Many aged care providers are members of the NZ Aged Care Association. The Association’s Chairman Simon O’Dowd earlier this year wrote to his members asking them to volunteer $20 per bed to a ‘fighting fund’ around the Equal Pay case. “We need to raise $400,000 to defend the case,” said O’Dowd. It appears that the Association has “taken over” the appeal case from Terra Nova. The Aged Care Association knows the government is the real culprit in the case and its decision to appeal the case to the Court of Appeal suggests they want it both ways. “While we are fully supportive of higher caregiver wages, we cannot support a process which is likely to cause a financial crisis for operators,” O’Dowd told his members before asking for their money. Interestingly O’Dowd predicts government giving “additional funding” if a solution to the case can be found. It’s an interesting strategy by a sector where some employers are more interested in ignoring its workforce than listening to them. The Association does not speak for all aged care employers. Not all aged care providers are members of the Association. Some have said privately that they will not be putting money into the court case preferring to invest in the campaign for better funding. Delegates are encouraged to find out if their employer is giving to the Association’s fighting fund or is more interested in working with SFWU and NZNO to fix the real problem.
Equal pay delegate education in the Deep South Gales, storms and the roaring 40s are part and parcel of southern weather. Watch out New Zealand because a storm’s brewing down south. A Big Storm! A storm of committed, enthusiastic and dedicated aged care caregivers and healthcare assistants attended All the way for equal pay education courses in Dunedin and Invercargill during March. All the SFWU and NZNO delegates who attended agreed, “we need to be valued for our work and it’s not fair that we are paid an average of 12 percent less than men for our work, for the simple fact that we are female.” Our star delegates explored the concept of pay parity and pay equality and the true value of their skills. Ninety percent of workers in aged care are women. They learned that winning equal pay in aged care will be the most significant move forward for their low paid predominantly female workforce, since women got the vote in 1893! These courses also cover why pay and employment equity benefit employers, as well as workers. Employees who are valued are more committed to the organisation, and this helps staff retention. Pay and employment equity across an organisation helps increase the diversity of the workforce at all levels. Employers gain a wider range of employees, styles, backgrounds, knowledge and experience, and can respond to a wider range of clients. The courses challenge delegates to take action: organising equal pay sign ups on their sites; recruiting new union members; talking to community groups to gather support, and lobbying politicians and prominent New Zealanders such as our Mayors and All Blacks who have invested in Aged Care facilities. We had a wonderful two days education with our fabulous delegates. Naku te rourou nau te rourou ka ora ai te iwi With your basket and my basket the people will live
All the way for equal pay education course attendees in the Deep South (left) and Christchurch (right)
Vote for equal pay in the 2014 General Election The work caregivers and health care assistants do for our vulnerable elderly is incredibly important in our society. We will all lose if we don’t recognise the value of the work with a fair and decent pay rate that’s equal to what would be paid if the sector were male-dominated. NZNO and SFWU are certain that now is the time to implement fair pay for caregivers. We are on the right side of history. If the government would like to be too, they know what to do. We all know that the government needs to step up and put a plan in place to implement equal pay for caregivers - whether they have the will to do it is another thing! One way we can achieve our goal is to make sure every politician and political party knows that we will be voting for a government that commits to equal pay! Service and Food Workers Union (SFWU) central region president and caregiver, Marianne Bishop agrees, “Every day we do our best for the residents but with the funding at such terribly low levels we need to be as active as we can if we want things to change.” “Either we continue with a culture that exploits the good will of thousands of women carergivers or we ... demand a better deal through making the underfunding of aged care an election issue.” “Union members and supporters around the country are not going to sit back and see what happens with Kristine Bartlett’s court case - we’re going to be part of the solution.” Now is the time to put an end to underfunding and undervaluing those who care for our elderly. Use your vote wisely and we’ll all be one step step closer to a society that does not allow discrimination on the basis of gender.
For more information about joining the union contact New Zealand Nurses Organisation Phone 0800 28 38 48 www.nzno.org.nz Service and Food Workers Union NgÄ Ringa Tota Phone 0800 86 46 61 www.sfwu.org.nz
A newsletter for NZNO and SFWU members working in the aged care sector.