Community support is one of the fastest growing industries in E tū with more than 11,000 members (and counting). We have members in aged care, home support, disability support, mental health, and other social services.
While community support is a growing industry for New Zealand’s economy, gender-based pay discrimination has kept wages far too low. That’s why E tū has led the way to secure equal pay for our members in Care and Community Support.
Around 6,000 E tū members work in residential aged care and home support. Residential carers work in retirement villages, rest homes, and hospitals to ensure that some of society’s most vulnerable are happy, comfortable and well looked after. Home support workers do a similar job, but they go from home to home, which means they do not have a traditional workplace like other workers in the sector.
While the equal pay victory is a crown jewel for E tū members in the sector, we have had plenty of other wins, including in-between travel time payments and guaranteed hours for home support workers.
Disability support workers are some of the unsung heroes of our community sector and play the vital role of helping people with disabilities live comfortably and reach their full potential. E tū members in disability support work for large employers such as IDEA Services and CCS Disability Action, as well as smaller local and community-based providers.
Disability supports workers were included in the equal pay settlement as a recognition of the gender-based pay discrimination in the sector. E tū has also won sleepover payments for workers – before our victory many workers were earning well below the minimum wage for the overnight hours they had to work.
Mental health and other social services
There is a huge demand for mental health services in New Zealand and government funding isn’t keeping up. There are many facets to this and one big problem is the low pay and poor conditions for people working in the sector.
While many mental health workers do a similar job to aged care and disability support workers, they were not included in the recent equal pay settlement and so low pay continues to plague the sector. E tū has now taken an equal pay case on the behalf of mental health workers to fix this – our members deserve it. Much better pay is needed in the sector not just to recognise the hard work of mental health professionals but also to ensure the services can attract workers and maintain high quality services.