The pay equity settlement for Oranga Tamariki social workers will be “very, very useful” for when DHB social workers’ pursue pay equity, says a PSA spokesperson as DHB Allied health talks resumed today.
The allied health and technical staff agreement, covering staff with an annual wage bill of around $670 million, has been under negotiation between the Public Service Association and the 20 DHBs since late last year – including the tabling of a pay equity claim.
This week the Government and PSA announced the settling of a pay equity claim worth $114m for Oranga Tamariki social workers, who first lodged their claim in late 2015. The new salary level for the child, youth and family social workers will start to be implemented from December 1 this year and will see an average salary increase of 30.6 per cent over two years for the more than 1,300 Oranga Tamariki social workers.
Ashok Shankar, a PSA national organiser for the DHB sector, said the Oranga Tamariki settlement would not automatically flow on to DHB social workers, as Oranga Tamariki workers have a statutory social work role. “But the Oranga Tamariki work is going to be very, very useful as a basis for comparison,” he said.
The PSA and DHBs were having two days of talks starting today, which follow the DHBs making an offer this month to the mental health and public health nurses covered by the PSA.
The PSA’s two allied health and technical agreement cover 45 different occupational groups including social workers, physiotherapists and occupational therapists. Pay equity is on the agenda for the staff covered by the agreement along with creating a senior pay scale and career framework to help recruit and retain allied health staff in what DHB statistics show is the most understaffed sector in hospitals across the country.
At the announcement of the Oranga Tamariki settlement, PSA National Secretary Erin Polaczuk said it reflected that the important role of statutory social workers had been undervalued.
“We have no doubt that this settlement will have an influence for social workers in other sectors, and in that sense it is a true trailblazer for the undervalued profession of social work.
“For social workers at DHBs and NGOs who deliver vital community public services, it is a given that discussions about pay equity will be entered into – with strong, continuing advocacy for pay equity from the PSA on their behalf.”