Category: Community Support

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.

 

Workers must be consulted on home support changes

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.

Mental health pay equity settlement signed

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.

 

$21,000 ERA win for Gateway Trust member

 

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.

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Ria Holmes E tū organiser ph. 027 590 0060