Clerical workers across the country’s 20 district health boards today raised an equal pay claim of between 15-45 per cent.
The claim was lodged by the Public Service Association on behalf of the nearly 7000 DHB clerical and administration workers to coincide with Administrative Workers’ Appreciation Day, which marks the contribution that admin staff make to their workplaces.
PSA National Secretary Erin Polaczuk said DHB clerical and admin staff were among the poorest-paid workers in the health system, and around 90 per cent of them are women.
“Despite being critical to the smooth operation of the health system, they are paid little more than the minimum wage,” said Polaczuk.
DHB jobs covered by the claim include ward clerks, librarians, medical receptionists, clinical coders and medical secretaries.The PSA members’ claim states the low pay is due to historic undervaluation of admin and clerical work, because it is considered “women’s work”. The pay equity gap claim is expected to fall between 15-45 per cent depending on where staff are currently on the pay scale and the DHB they are working at.
Angela Belich, deputy executive director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS) said DHB clerical staff provide essential support to front line clinical staff and need to be paid fairly.
“Everyone working in the public health system is grappling with the consequences of years of under-funding for our public hospitals and the resulting increase in workload and stress,” she said.
The PSA clerical equal pay claim is being raised under the process laid out in the recommendations of the Joint Working Group on Equal Pay Principles. It follows last year’s historic pay equity settlement for care and support care workers and the tabling last year of a pay equity claim by the New Zealand Nurses Organisation for DHB nurses, midwives and health care assistants which is tied up with the current NZNO DHB impasse.
The occupational comparator for the PSA clerical equal pay claim was still to be decided. The claim was presented to Cath Jackson, an Employment Relations Specialist in pay equity for TAS, the organisation that provides employment advisory and other services for the 20 DHBs.
“Administration and clerical workers keep our health system on its feet, and the importance and value of their work has been overlooked for too long,” Polaczuk said. The claim has been endorsed by the nearly 5000 PSA clerical members working in the DHBs.
The claim is separate from the negotiations currently underway for the PSA clerical and administration staff covered by the Northern DHBs PSA collective agreement.