By Lucy Bennett

Rest home worker Kristine Bartlett has been the catalyst for pay equity for health and care sector workers.

Health Minister David Clark has signed a $173.5 million pay equity settlement for mental health and addiction support workers that brings them into line with care and support workers.

Around 5000 workers will get a pay rise next month after the Government extended the landmark Care and Support Workers (Pay Equity) Settlement Act following a claim lodged by the Public Service Association and E tū unions with the Employment Relations Authority.

Clark signed the settlement along with representatives from unions, providers and the Ministry of Health at an event at Parliament this morning.

Clark estimated nearly half of the workers will get an increase of more than $3 an hour and for 1000 it will be a more than $5 per hour increase, backdated to July 2017.

“Last year when Labour was in opposition, Jacinda Ardern was very clear that extending pay equity to mental health and addiction support workers would be one of our first priorities in government,” Clark said.

“I’m pleased that we can now sign this agreement with unions and employers, to extend the Care and Support Workers [Pay Equity] Settlement Act to include these important workers.

“Ensuring our mental health and addiction workers are paid what they deserve will help deliver a robust workforce.”

The settlement extension will be implemented over five years and funded through an increase to the health budget.

The Care and Support Workers (Pay Equity) Settlement Act increased the pay rates of 55,000 care and support workers in aged and disability residential care, and home and community support services.

It was the case of rest home worker Kristine Bartlett that was the catalyst for the previous National government’s $2 billion pay equity settlement.

“These workers were unfairly left out of the equal pay care and support settlement by the National government, and we’re thrilled to see this wrong righted today,” PSA assistant national secretary Kerry Davies said.

“We’re really happy the Government has honoured its election commitment to extend the care and support settlement to mental health and addiction support workers,” E tū assistant national secretary John Ryall said.

Source: NZ Herald

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