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The New Zealand Aged Care Association (NZACA) has hit back at suggestions made recently in the New Zealand Nurse’s Organisation’s (NZNO) magazine Kai Tiaki that a “top pay rate of $26 an hour” is likely to emerge as the Equal Pay settlement for care and support workers.

The article claimed that “both union and Crown negotiators recognised the aged care sector would be expected to pay some of the costs of any settlement”.

NZACA chief executive Simon Wallace agrees there is a willingness from Government to fund a meaningful increase for care givers – but not at the $26 level that the union seeks.

“Unrealistic union expectations continue to delay what could be a positive and meaningful wage increase for our care givers – union members or not,” says Wallace. “This is because a union claim for a caregiver pay rate of $26 an hour would cost an estimated $500 million each year, or almost one third of total funding to our sector. Clearly this is unlikely to be met by Government, so is not sustainable. And it would massively impact how caregiver rates compare to registered and enrolled nurses.”

Wallace says the NZACA will continue to put all its efforts into achieving a negotiated settlement.

“For the moment, however, we are on the side lines while the Government and unions attempt to reach a figure they can agree upon.”

If a settlement can’t be reached, it is possible the Equal Pay case will be decided through the court process.

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