Month: March 2019

The Christchurch tragedy

Dear E tū members,

We have returned to work this week under the sorrowful shadow of a great and unjust tragedy.

On behalf of all E tū members I express my respect and support to all of our many Muslim and migrant members and your families. We are proud of what you bring to your union and your country.

Our Christchurch members and your families feel, understandably, that you have been kicked in the guts again.

Our Christchurch union staff and a number of elected delegates supported each other in lockdown at our Cashel St office into Friday evening while the situation unfolded and stabilised. We have staff and members who have been directly affected by this terrorist atrocity.

I would like to thank our E tū members at the hospitals that have been working around the clock to make sure the victims get the best care possible. This includes security, orderlies, cleaners, food service workers and trade staff.

I believe New Zealanders have a keen collective sense of respect, tolerance, dignity and a fair-go for all and this has really shone through in our nations response over recent days.  I have received a huge number of messages of support from across the global union movement, expressing the solidarity of working people across the world.

We mourn with our fellow Kiwis who have lost their loved ones.  Our union can play a key role in assisting members over the next period.  We have already started assisting with public rallies during the weekend and that will continue.

Please click here for some more information from us that I hope you find helpful.

Solidarity Christchurch.

Bill Newson
National Secretary

IDEA Services care workers to strike 1 April

Three thousand care and support workers employed by IDEA Services, the operational arm of IHC, have voted to strike on 1 April.

E tū industry co-ordinator Alastair Duncan says members voted overwhelmingly to strike after five months of challenging bargaining, during which IDEA has failed to respond positively to key workforce and safety concerns.

“Support workers at IDEA do an extraordinary job of supporting young and old people with intellectual disabilities,” says Alastair.

“Every day and every night, seven days a week, staff go the extra mile. Just once a year we ask IDEA to reflect that contribution by working together to improve the working conditions of staff.”

Alastair Duncan says union members have sought a greater voice on health and safety, and recognition for working weekends as well as the restoration of responsibility margins.

“IDEA responded by wanting to cut sick leave accumulation, force staff to move workplaces without agreement or notice and simply refused to consider recognition that staff are required to work anti-social hours.”

Alastair says IHC operates the same business model as for-profit care providers, spinning off its financially successful property division from its operational arm.

“IHC is a major landlord and property company that depends on its care staff. It is tragic to see them ignoring their own workforce.

“IHC has a strong and growing asset base but refuses to do the smart thing and allow its property arm to support its operational arm.”

Alastair says staff are concerned that IDEA has dug its heels in leaving them little choice but to take what is lawful, modest but important industrial action.

The union is seeking urgent mediation but if the strike goes ahead, will be holding nationwide high-profile pickets.

“Support workers will be reaching out to families and the community to work with us to persuade IDEA to do the right thing and respect it’s staff,” he says.

Alastair Duncan says IHC locked its staff out of weekend pay and other allowances in the 1990’s and it is now well past time to return what was stolen.

The strike will begin at 7.00 am and affect several hundred residential, vocational and secure homes and facilities.

ENDS

For further information contact Alastair Duncan on 027 245 6593.

Care home staff shortages critical

E tū says staffing in aged care is inadequate and frequently unsafe for residents and carers.

An E tū/NZNO survey of 1200 caregivers reveals just one in ten staff believed their rest homes were sufficiently staffed to provide quality care.

Most report cares were missed on most if not all shifts as staff ration care.

In one tragic case, a resident died because they saw how over-worked the staff were and didn’t want to report an infected wound.

E tū members regularly report just two caregivers on shifts providing care for up to 60 frail and vulnerable people.

E tū delegate and care and support worker, Marianne Bishop says the survey reflects the reality of working life for the country’s aged care workforce. 

“We believe staffing is inadequate to deliver quality care. We know from the survey that many carers are in despair.

“They’re absolutely exhausted at their end of their shift. They can’t take breaks because they want to get the work done. Then at the end of the day, they’re sitting in their cars and crying.

“And it’s not just about them. It’s about the care that’s being denied to the people they care for. It’s not right.

“We love our jobs, but I feel I can’t do the job to the standard I think our residents deserve. If you’re really short-staffed basic cares like showers don’t get done. And frequently, you can’t toilet people on time which is an insult to people’s dignity.”

Both unions want a review of the voluntary staffing standards for aged care, which allocates just 6 minutes per hour per resident, and are calling for higher mandatory staffing levels.

“Care is being denied to vulnerable elderly people who need it,” says E tū Industry Coordinator, Alastair Duncan.

“Our caregivers are burning out as they struggle with unsafe workloads. The sector has long been under-funded, and staffing has been an issue for years. 

“But now it’s been cut to the bone at a time when residents are frailer with more complex care needs. At the end of the day it’s the vulnerable elderly who suffer,” he says.

“It means carers can’t spend any quality time at all with them. Our members get very upset that they can’t spare a moment to comfort an elderly person, or just talk to them.”

ENDS

For more information contact:
Alastair Duncan E tū Industry Coordinator Care and Support Ph. 027 245 6593.

We can also provide contact details for Marianne Bishop and other caregivers.