Pay equity

Bupa David Lange Care Home workers

Care and support workers ready for final part of the fight for pay equity

E tū and other unions will soon be in bargaining for our care and support workers’ pay equity claim.

The claim, which was filed on 1 July last year, is an important part of the fight to close the gender pay gap and get workers’ wages up in line with inflation.

Many members say they are struggling to survive financially in the face of increasing living costs.

Bargaining is due to kick off around August with E tū and other care and support unions, PSA and NZNO. Our aim is to have the claim settled before the General Election in October.

Why can’t care and support workers get decent pay?

Care and support work has traditionally been undervalued and underpaid, as it’s work that’s usually done by women.

Workers’ pay scales have not been updated to keep up with inflation or reassessed for gender discrimination since they were radically revised as part of their first historic pay equity settlement in 2017, initiated by Kristine Bartlett’s ground-breaking court case.

What does it mean to have pay equity?

Pay equity is about making sure that all workers are paid equally for work of equal value. Work of ‘equal value’ is work that requires a similar level of skill and responsibility, even though the jobs themselves are different.

What’s in our 2023 pay equity claim?

  • The claim is against 15 different aged care employers, which is representative of all employers in the sector.
  • It argues that workers are underpaid because they are in jobs mainly performed by women and that their rates should be raised in line with jobs of similar responsibility and skill performed mainly by men.
  • The claim uses ‘comparator jobs’, for example, caregivers compared with corrections officers, to establish what care workers should be paid.
  • When the claim is settled, the pay increases will pass on to all workers in the sector.
  • Pay increases will be paid by way of the government supplying more funding to care providers (employers).

Preparing our claim

  • Interviews with 50 care and support workers to create a job profile of the skills and responsibilities involved.
  • Research on ‘comparator’ jobs done in predominantly male occupations requiring similar levels of skill and responsibility.
  • Workshops to research the terms, conditions, and qualifications needed for care and support workers.
  • Comparisons done between union and employer research on care and support work with the three male-dominated jobs.
  • Agreement reached that care workers are undervalued!

In their own words…

“Pay equity and a pay increase would mean I could be home more for my husband to look after him as he has health issues, because right now the pay is not enough.

Care worker Meise Misa

“When the settlement ran out, we got a very low pay increase – only around 30 cents. It will also help my colleagues, who are working six and seven days a week, to spend more time with their family. It’s not fair, and also the job is very physical – we work with patients with dementia and mental health issues.

“It’s a pleasure working in this environment, despite the physical nature of the job. It reminds me of the way of living in the islands. I’ve been working in this environment for nearly 30 years, and for every hardworking person I’ve met, we deserve better pay.”