Mental health workers at Nelson-based Gateway Trust will walk off the job on Tuesday, 21 August to protest years of delays in sorting out new employment conditions.
Two strike notices have been issued. The first is for the stoppage on Tuesday for one hour, from 3pm to 4pm, when members will be picketing.
The Trust, which provides mental health services as well as the Snapshot outreach service for young people, operates in Greymouth, Nelson, Motueka, and Blenheim.
The Collective Agreement expired more than two years ago, and with restructuring changes at Gateway, the matter is now urgent, says E tū organiser, Ria Holmes.
“Any attempt to settle the Agreement has met with excuses, obfuscation and delays by Trust management,” she says.
“Workers feel they are being bullied. They’ve been threatened with the loss of their jobs and the Trust is restructuring which could affect members’ hours and even their jobs.
“They want the protection of a Collective Agreement. We are also seeking the inclusion of a redundancy clause, given the threats that have been made.”
Gateway delegate, Marie Benton says members reluctantly voted to strike because it was the only option left after months of talks, including mediation.
“Taking time away from vulnerable children and adults is a hard thing to do”, she says.
“But in the same way that nurses and teachers have been speaking out, we have to stand up for what’s right.
“We care for and support people who face real challenges in managing their mental health. Yet our management shows none of the care and support you’d expect from an organisation which provides these services.”
Ria says Gateway is alienating a workforce that is professional and dedicated, raising serious questions about its ability to provide leadership in mental health services.
Gateway Trust picket:
When: 3pm – 4pm, Tuesday, 21 August
Where: Cnr Waimea Rd and Market Rd near the Gateway Trust HQ.
For more information, contact:
Ria Holmes E tū Nelson organiser ph. 027 590 0060
Ria can provide contact details for our Gateway delegates.
Stability and certainty for home care workers and their clients must be central to any decisions made around service providers in the Wellington region, the PSA and E tū unions say.
Capital and Coast DHB and Hutt Valley DHB are calling for tenders for home care support services, after calling time on their existing arrangement of a sole provider model (currently Access Community Health).
The DHBs have made clear their intention to contract more than one provider to deliver this service, and unions say secure and stable work for support workers must be central to any new contract.
“Care and support workers fought for and won proper recognition of the crucial work they do, and we are concerned they may be left out of this process,” PSA National Secretary Kerry Davies says.
“Whoever wins this contract must be properly funded to do this work, including all obligations around training, guaranteed hours and in-between travel.”
The PSA and E tū understand DHBs intend to consult with stakeholders, and say workers must be included in the process.
“If we are to genuinely move towards quality care for our elderly people, then clients and support workers must be consulted,” E tū Delegate Tamara Baddeley says.
“Without this consultation, DHBs cannot deliver the care and support elderly people need.”
PSA delegate Helen Amey says she’s worried about uncertainty and instability for workers, because this is the third time many of them have been through this process.
“We are also worried about the impact on our clients, who rely on us to live independently and need continuity of support.”
The PSA and E tū say maintaining the recent gains achieved by support workers must be core to any decisions made.
The unions urge the DHBs to begin proper consultation with workers and their representatives as a matter of urgency.
Around 5000 mental health and addiction support workers will be paid what they are worth, after the ground-breaking care and support settlement was extended to cover them.
Health minister David Clark has signed the $173.5 million pay equity settlement, along with representatives from unions, providers and the Ministry of Health.
“We’re really happy the government has honoured its election commitment to extend the care and support settlement to mental health and addiction support workers,” says E tū Assistant National Secretary John Ryall.
“They’ve had to wait but it’s been worth waiting for,” he says.
“I think it’s a real triumph for the workers who have worked tirelessly for so little pay for so long,” says E tū delegate Leon Tunoho who has worked for nine years as a mental health and addictions support worker.
“I also hope this helps retain the good people working in this sector as well,” he says.
“These workers were unfairly left out of the equal pay care and support settlement by the National government, and we’re thrilled to see this wrong righted today,” PSA Assistant National Secretary Kerry Davies says.
“They do crucial work with some of the most vulnerable people in New Zealand, and today they are getting what they truly deserve – because they are worth 100%.”
PSA Delegate Tarn Evans says today is a hard-won victory which will make a huge difference.
“Many mental health and addiction support workers are paid at or just above the minimum wage, and it’s really hard to make ends meet.
“Now, we’ll be able to feed our families, pay our bills and put fuel in our cars without worrying if there’s enough left in our bank accounts.”
The settlement will see more than half of workers in the sector get an increase of more than $3 an hour – and one in five will get more than $5 an hour.
The increase will be backdated to July 2017.
E tū has welcomed a decision by the Employment Relations Authority that the sacking of its member, Caro McFadden by Nelson’s Gateway Trust was unjustified.
The Authority awarded Caro a total of $21,594.00 – including $6594.49 for lost wages and holiday pay, as well as $15,000 for humiliation, loss of dignity and injury to her feelings.
Gateway Trust provides in-house and out-reach mental health services for people across the upper South Island.
Caro’s job was disestablished following a service restructure and she failed to secure one of three new managerial positions.
She was subsequently dismissed during a period when she was invited to consider a redeployment offer and whilst she was off sick with a doctor’s certificate for stress related to the imminent loss of her job.
The Authority found Caro had been unjustifiably dismissed.
In its ruling it said no fair and reasonable employer would have dismissed her in circumstances where they failed to meet her face to face to discuss her options once she recovered from her illness and learned of her decision in relation to alternative work.
“E tū took this case on behalf of our member, Caro McFadden after her unfair treatment by the Gateway Trust and we are delighted that the decision to challenge her dismissal has been vindicated by the Authority’s ruling. Caro deserves this win,” says Ria Holmes, E tū organiser in Nelson.
In a statement, Caro says the judgement has gone in her favour and she is happy with the outcome.
For more information, contact:
Ria Holmes E tū organiser ph. 027 590 0060
E tū care and support members are celebrating a second substantial pay rise today.
The increase comes a year after the equal pay settlement which followed the historic settlement of the court case taken by E tū and aged care member, Kristine Bartlett.
The settlement includes a series of annual pay rises until 2021, with the next increase on 1 July this year.
“Our members have enjoyed the benefits of last year’s equal pay increase and they will be celebrating this one as well,” says Yvette Taylor, E tū Campaign Lead Organiser.
“It’s another step towards care givers really being valued. The higher pay rates have made a big difference to our members with many finally able to take a holiday, visit their dentist, and pay the bills.
“This latest increase will deliver even more of these benefits, so it’s cause for celebration,” she says.
Wairarapa aged care worker, Simone O’Connor says she’s been reminding her workmates about the increase which for some has come as a pleasant surprise.
“Many had forgotten they were due another pay rise. The year has gone so quickly! But it’s great. We’re on the right path and we’re moving ahead – more money means a better life,” says Simone.
Home support delegate, Shannon Crowley says a year on, the settlement has changed her life, allowing simple pleasures like taking her son to the movies, and planning her first holiday in years.
“I haven’t stressed out about money so much because I just feel more cushioned – just less stressed and cornered,” she says.
“And there’s a lot of clients who really are happy for us. They all say to us, ‘It’s about time, love!’, which is great.”
Meanwhile, Yvette says E tū and its delegates are getting the word out to members to check their pay, and that they are getting the training that is an entitlement included in the settlement.
“Qualifications mean higher pay, but it’s also about ensuring the best quality care for the people our members look after,” she says.
For further information, contact:
Yvette Taylor E tū Campaign Lead Organiser ph. 027 431 8486
To speak to Shannon or Simone, contact: Karen Gregory-Hunt, ph. 022 269 1170.
Mental health and addiction support workers have been rewarded for their patience – with their long fight for equal pay finally over.
The Government has confirmed the care and support settlement will be extended to these workers.
An estimated 5000 workers will get a pay rise, backdated to 1 July 2017, the date of the original $2 billion settlement.
“Our members in mental health and addiction support were unfairly left out of the original settlement,” PSA Assistant National Secretary Kerry Davies says.
“The mental health and addiction support sector urgently needs more staff, and this should help to recruit and retain skilled and dedicated workers.
“The Labour-led Government has made good on its commitment to work with unions and employers to deliver where the National Government failed.
“Our members stood together and now they’re getting what they deserve.”
PSA Mental Health Committee co-convenor Pollyanna Alo says mental health and addiction support workers like her will feel valued for the work they do.
“This means everything to me,” she says.
“Now support workers throughout New Zealand are able to feed their families, put petrol in the car and just enjoy a little bit of luxury without a stranglehold on their finances.”
E tū Equal Pay Coordinator, Yvette Taylor says the deal is a promise kept by the new Government.
“We know from speaking to our members in this sector that many earn too little to live decently. This will be a relief, and a recognition of the vital work they do in our communities.
“The Government has made mental health a priority and valuing these workers is crucial to the success of these services.”
Ratification meetings for all mental health and addictions support workers will now be held around New Zealand so workers can vote on the settlement.
“We would urge everyone to attend to hear about and vote on this historic offer,” Ms Taylor and Ms Davies say.
For further information, contact:
Yvette Taylor Equal Pay Coordinator E tū ph. 027 431 8486
E tū support for NZEI Pay Equity Day of Action
E tū says the equal pay settlement for care and support workers made a huge difference to the lives of these members and all women deserve pay equity.
E tū members are among the speakers at rallies tomorrow, organised by the NZEI in support of pay equity for women in education.
E tū’s Women’s Committee Convenor and aged care worker, Marianne Bishop, who will be speaking in Wellington says women must stand together if they are to win pay equity for all.
“The support of other unions and community groups was crucial in helping us secure our settlement. Now it’s our turn to stand in support of pay justice for all women,” says Marianne.
“I raised two sons on very low wages and it was a real struggle. The settlement made a huge difference. I’ve been able to pay off some debts, and for the first time in 6 years, I can afford a dentist, and I can see the doctor when I need to,” she says.
“Women need to be valued and paid a fair wage for the work they do. It is not right to pay them a low wage because the work they do is deemed to be women’s work.”
Auckland home support worker, Shannon Crowley who will speak in Auckland saw her pay lift by $4.00 an hour, thanks to the settlement.
She says it’s time women in education received the same recognition.
“Things have to change for early childhood teachers and school support staff. They need an hourly rate that says they are valued. It happened for us and it’s time to stand side by side to make this happen for them,” says Shannon.
E tū’s Equal Pay Coordinator, Yvette Taylor says the union is proud to support women working in education.
“These workers are undervalued for the highly skilled work they do,” she says.
“It’s time for the Government to step up and deliver for them, just as the equal pay settlement has delivered for care and support members.”
For further information, contact:
Yvette Taylor E tū Equal Pay Coordinator ph. 027 431 8486.
Support workers at IDEA have voted by a large a majority to ratify their new collective. The deal delivers a 5% pay raise for admin members and a 90 day deadline to make progress on restoring relativities around senior roles, as well as finding a better way to manage service reviews found strong support.
The relativities and service review working parties are due to report back by 1 June and if progress is made we will ‘open’ the collective and incorporate their work.
If progress is not made then at the next bargaining (due in the spring) we will refocus our claims for weekend and other pay rises on top of the next equal pay step for support workers due 1 July.
At the same time, the Health and Safety working party will refocus its efforts to establish a decent workers participation process.
IDEA was forced to withdraw it’s claims to cut sick leave and stress leave but refused to discuss equal pay for admin staff.
The vote was 576 in favour and 77 against.