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 Duncan.

“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.”

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.”

Duncan 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.”

Duncan 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.

IDEA Services Chief Operating Officer Joan Cowan says the strike action, involving many of IDEA’s Support Workers, means areas will now put in place careful contingency plans to ensure the safety of the people supported by IDEA Services.

“Some services may change or be delayed on the day of industrial action. IDEA Services will communicate with anyone who is affected.”

Cowan says the union gave notice of the strike on Friday, 15 March 2019 at 4:30pm when they were busy establishing whether staff, family/whānau and people with intellectual disabilities were safe in Christchurch.

“We are raising this timing with the union,” says Cowan.

The strike will begin at 7.00 am and affect several hundred residential, vocational and secure homes and facilities.

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