By Nic Corrigan
Most IDEA Services residential staff are physically at work between 50-70 hours a week. This includes weekends, evening and overnights. Staff will often go that extra mile and even work in other towns away from home, to help out when there isn’t anyone else to fill a shift. And often during our time off, we are rung day or night to sacrifice time with our families to cover shifts.
We do this because we know these vulnerable people need us. But this all comes at a significant personal cost to support workers’ personal lives, in terms of giving up time and milestones with their family and Friends.
Now IHC/IDEA Services tells us they the support workers to be more ‘flexible’. What they are saying is what we do is not enough; they want even more from us.
Members believe they already give everything they can to the people we support, and they can’t sacrifice anymore. They are deeply offended by IDEA Service’s escalating demands and worried about how much more they and their families will have to sacrifice to keep their job and passion. For many, it’s already been too much and they have quit.
Senior Support Workers
While most people know support workers go the extra mile, some might not know that it is the Senior support workers who lead this. They mentor, support and lead the team. If something new needs to happen or a person we support wants to achieve something new in their life, it’s the Senior support worker who leads the way to enable the support team to make it happen for the person they support. We want these senior staff members recognised with a small pay rise, and celebrated for the extra contribution, commitment, knowledge and experience they bring to the organisation. IHC/Idea Services wants the position gone.
We are striking to ensure the places we work are safe from violence and that there is adequate support to ensure this happens. Too often our members are placed in a situation where they must choose whether to protect themselves or the people they support from physical harm – and thus we chose to ourselves in harm’s way to protect others. IHC/Idea Services wants to remove a section from our Collective Agreement that acknowledges that some of our service users have challenging behaviours which are a risk to health and safety. If this happens, members feel this will render invisible the fact that some support workers face the threat of violence from service users on a daily basis.
We take the hits, punches, bites and threats of violence and we try to manage this the best we can. What we don’t expect is for our employer to add salt to our injuries by dismissing our real safety concerns.
Support workers need and have the right to be treated with respect, and to feel safe like every other working New Zealander. We are striking to ensure these principles are respected and upheld.