A new campaign launched by union E tū signals a growing impatience to resolve the equal pay issue.
The new campaign includes a video featuring cleaners and caregivers who, according to E tū’s equal pay Campaign Co-ordinator, Yvette Taylor, “typically earn minimum rates of pay for what’s seen as ‘women’s work’.”
Although caregiver Kristine Bartlett and the union won their case for equal pay, they are still waiting for the case to be settled through an out-of-court negotiations process.
Negotiations between the union, Government and representatives from the aged care and home support industries have been dragging on behind closed doors for over a year with little sign of progress. If it is not resolved through these negotiations, the question of how much caregivers will be paid will be reverted back to the courts.
While Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett has promised action on this issue, she has also indicated that legislation won’t be passed until after the General Election, which is seven months away.
Taylor says it is not acceptable for women to be waiting months before the government implements the equal pay principles agreed to in the Bartlett case.
However, INsite understands the union is holding out for caregivers to be paid $26 an hour – a rate that is about 70 per cent higher than the average current starting rate and one that many aged care providers say will cripple them if they are forced to increase wages to this level without an equivalent increase in government funding. It has been touted that such a change would cost taxpayers around an extra $500 million a year. It appears stalemate has been reached around the negotiating table.