Category: Community Support

No April Fool as IDEA workers go on strike

Hundreds of IDEA members turned out across the Country on 1 April standing loud and proud for a better deal at work.

From Northland to Southland member grabbed picket signs, braved torrential rain and made headlines across the country.

With paid stop-work meetings coming up in the week of the 15  April, another strike could be on the  cards.

IDEA: April 1 strike is on after mediation fails

Mediation for nearly 3000 IDEA Services care workers has ended in failure after IDEA Services, the operational arm of IHC, refused to budge on key union claims to lift wages and conditions.

The members, who provide residential care for the intellectually disabled, are seeking higher pay for senior service workers, weekend pay rates and action on unsafe staffing levels.

E tū industry co-ordinator Alastair Duncan says IDEA Services refused a union request to even discuss options.

“Not only does IDEA Services want to cut current conditions, it also wants to undermine the job security of the workforce using the mantra of so-called ‘flexibility’.

“Union members are fed up with the way their long-standing concerns have been ignored.

“Every day support workers go the extra mile for IDEA Services but when it comes to staff rights, IDEA shuts down”, he says.

Delegates say they are sick of having problems like understaffing parked in working parties which go nowhere.

“Even our attempts to engage constructively around safe staffing and violence in the workplace have been continually met with a noncommittal response. We are feeling unheard and undervalued because of this,” says Marlborough-based union delegate Jeanine Sadd.

Union members have asked to meet with the board to discuss their concerns, but IDEA Services has yet to respond.

“IDEA has now followed the pattern of the corporate aged care world and is growing its property arm at the expense of its workforce,” says Manawatu union delegate Nic Corrigan.

“They seem to think safe staffing is an optional extra.”

The 4-hour strike begins at 7.00 am on Monday and will involve pickets and protests in both metropolitan and rural New Zealand.

ENDS

For further information, contact Alastair Duncan ph. 027 245 6593.

To speak to our delegates, please contact Karen Gregory-Hunt ph. 022 269 1170

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.

Changes urged to Equal Pay Amendment bill

E tū says without key changes to the Equal Pay Amendment bill, few women will be able to successfully pursue an equal pay claim.

E tū Assistant National Secretary, John Ryall appeared before today’s Workforce and Education Select Committee hearing on the bill, together with E tū delegate, Marianne Bishop.

John says the union welcomes the Government’s decision to retain the Equal Pay Act 1972, which the previous National government would have scrapped.

The union is also pleased claimants must no longer prove they have a case before they can lodge a pay equity claim.

“However, too many hurdles remain,” says John.

“The process remains unnecessarily complex and time-consuming, and it needs to be simplified.”

John says the union’s position is founded on the principles of the Joint Working Group on pay equity, as well as the Court of Appeal ruling in the Terranova case which led to the equal pay settlement for care and support workers.

“The court found the Equal Pay Act 1972 was deficient and in need of change, which we support, but we don’t want it changed so it’s more difficult for women to get pay equity.

“There is a risk as things stand of closing the door for other women, because it’s so difficult that people give up.”

E tū delegate and care and support worker, Marianne Bishop says the new bill is an improvement on the Equal Pay Act 1972.

But she says, while women in unions will have support to navigate the process, many individual claimants would struggle.

She says it’s critical all women get the resources they need, including help with comparators so they can argue their case.

“The bill is better than it was but it’s quite complex for an individual person to navigate. Employers will have lawyers to help them but many women will flounder.

“There needs to be a support system – an agency – to help these people through the process,” she says.

ENDS

For more information, contact:

John Ryall E tū Assistant National Secretary ph. 027 520 1380

To contact Marianne, please call:

Karen Gregory-Hunt, E tū Communications Officer, ph. 022 269 1170.

IDEA members to vote on strike action

IDEA support and administration member are meeting this month in a series of nationwide meetings to vote on possible industrial action.

Nearly 3000 union members are eligible to attend the meetings which will receive an update on the negotiations which started in December.

The strike vote comes after IDEA pushed for cuts to sick leave rights and demanded staff become more “ flexible” by agreeing to move between workplaces without notice. If passed, the strike action would not be scheduled for April.

For their part union delegates are posing the need to address serious health and safety concerns and restore overtime and weekend pay rights which were slashed by IHC in the 1990s.

The meetings are paid for those staff rostered to attend and IDEA has agreed to release members to attend.

Click here for a full list of meetings.

The result of the strike vote will be known at the end of the month.

DHB OCS workers vote to strike

E tū members employed by hospital contractor, OCS have voted to strike over the company’s failure to agree the same pay deal for them as directly employed DHB workers covered by the new DHB MECA, settled just before Christmas.

The affected members, who work at Hawkes Bay DHB and Wairarapa DHB voted overwhelmingly to walk off the job for 24 hours on 26 February.

The MECA sets the conditions for 4000 hospital service workers and includes pay rises of up to 40 percent over the next three years.

Most directly employed workers have either received their first pay rise, or have a date when the increase including backpay will be paid.

But E tū Industry Coordinator, Sam Jones says for OCS members, there is no settlement, pay rise or back pay in sight.

“OCS has so far failed to respond to members’ claims with respect to the MECA, nor to settle on the same terms.

“It claims there is no settlement yet because of hold ups at the DHB funding end. The DHB says there is no problem, pointing the finger back at the contractor. 

“Either way, this isn’t good enough after the settlement was signed off and promoted by the Ministry of Health, and the Health Minister himself,” says Sam.  

Wairarapa member and OCS contractor, Kerry Hargood says he and his co-workers thought the money would be paid out by Christmas and feelings are running high.

“I’m a sole father on one wage. I turned down extra work because I thought I’d get the pay rise and backpay before Christmas. Now I’ve got books to buy and uniforms for the kids, and I haven’t got the money.  

“We’ve all worked really hard; they’ve told us how wonderful we are, and now it’s come to this. It’s really hurt us all,” he says, “A lot of us thought this was a done deal.”

ENDS

For further information, contact:

Sam Jones E tū Industry Coordinator, Public Hospital ph. 027 544 8563

If media wish to speak to Kerry Hargood, please contact Karen Gregory-Hunt on ph. 027 6222 345 and we’ll put you in touch.

Fed up Gateway mental health workers to strike

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.

ENDS

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.