Pay offer will change lives

Equity agreement a long time coming.

Equity agreement a long time coming.

PROVIDING CARE: Support worker Gabrielle Rutherford (right) helps Elaine Ropata make her bed. She does a lot of practical chores around the house that have become difficult for Elaine because of acute back pain. Picture by Paul Rickard

THE support and services workers’ pay equity agreement has been a long time coming for Gisborne CCS Disability Action support worker Gabrielle Rutherford, who needs two jobs to make ends meet.

“I’ve been a support worker for more than 20 years. It will help immensely, especially if you are the main income earner like me,” she said.

Mrs Rutherford works seven days a week to make up the hours she needs to bring home a liveable income.

“I would see about five people a day and provide care ranging from personal care, such as showering, dressing, blow-drying hair and checking medications, to housework and meal preparation.”

Support workers are often passionate about helping others and form lasting friendships with their clients.

“You brighten their day but I am also happy to see them.”

With support workers receiving a substantial pay increase, she hopes it will attract more people to the job.

Another CCS Disability Action support worker, Te Huinga Atkins, says support workers establish a close relationship with the people they support.

Despite earning the minimum wage of $15.75 an hour, she has stayed in the job for more than 20 years for other reasons.

“A lot of us do it because of a genuine love of old people and we end up doing extra unpaid hours out of the goodness of our hearts

“Women of the nation in the health sector who care for the elderly, disabled or any person who cannot help themselves deserve a wage rise. You work so hard doing work which is physically, mentally and emotionally draining but the one thing is knowing you've done your job and you've done it well. The job is very challenging. You're dealing with different personalities but they are still someone's mum, sister, aunt, grandad, dad, brother or uncle.”

Huge difference

She said the pay increase is going to make a huge difference. She has dealt with people who suffer from dementia and said you learn how to handle them.

“It’s all about giving them back their mana so they feel they have control. You learn to go along for the ride with them, even when they start accusing you of taking things.

“You have to remember not to take it personally, it's just part of their condition.”

CCS Disability Action has 120 staff working in Gisborne, Wairoa and surrounding rural areas who will potentially benefit from the increase.

They provide home-based and community support for people with a disablilty and their families.

CCS executive director David Matthews is delighted for support staff who have been underpaid because of the overall under-funding of the sector.

“Our hope is that our government contracts will now be adjusted to accommodate not just the increase in pay rates for support staff, but also the inevitable flow-on costs resulting from this agreement," he said.

"The sector needs an overall boost to its funding, not just an adjustment because of these new and welcome pay rates.”

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman has described the pay increase as the largest in New Zealand’s history, and that it will benefit some of New Zealand’s lowest-paid workers. The work force is mainly female and part-time with an average wage of between $16 and $18 an hour.

Increase from July 1

The historic pay equity agreement will increase wages to between $19 and $27 per hour over five years. For the workers it won’t be backdated but will take immediate effect from July 1.

E tu Union industry co-ordinator Alastair Duncan has been involved in negotiations from the beginning and said the pay offer is the first but hugely important step.

“There are meetings over the next two months across the sector to vote on the offer and presuming it is agreed, it is likely the pay will start in July,” he said.

Age Concern Tairawhiti CEO Frances Toroa says her organisation is celebrating the success of the settlement to increase wages across the aged care and disability sectors, and is thankful for all the hard work put in by the union on behalf of workers.

“They deserve every cent of the pay rise, as they do such an important job with the elderly,” she said.

She hopes this will keep more good people in the industry, as many leave because they can't make ends meet.

“We are interested in the wellbeing of both caregivers and the elderly. Higher wages will take off some of the financial pressure and reduce stress.”

For some elderly who have no family, caregivers can be the only human contact they have.


THE support and services workers’ pay equity agreement has been a long time coming for Gisborne CCS Disability Action support worker Gabrielle Rutherford, who needs two jobs to make ends meet.

“I’ve been a support worker for more than 20 years. It will help immensely, especially if you are the main income earner like me,” she said.

Mrs Rutherford works seven days a week to make up the hours she needs to bring home a liveable income.

“I would see about five people a day and provide care ranging from personal care, such as showering, dressing, blow-drying hair and checking medications, to housework and meal preparation.”

Support workers are often passionate about helping others and form lasting friendships with their clients.

“You brighten their day but I am also happy to see them.”

With support workers receiving a substantial pay increase, she hopes it will attract more people to the job.

Another CCS Disability Action support worker, Te Huinga Atkins, says support workers establish a close relationship with the people they support.

Despite earning the minimum wage of $15.75 an hour, she has stayed in the job for more than 20 years for other reasons.

“A lot of us do it because of a genuine love of old people and we end up doing extra unpaid hours out of the goodness of our hearts

“Women of the nation in the health sector who care for the elderly, disabled or any person who cannot help themselves deserve a wage rise. You work so hard doing work which is physically, mentally and emotionally draining but the one thing is knowing you've done your job and you've done it well. The job is very challenging. You're dealing with different personalities but they are still someone's mum, sister, aunt, grandad, dad, brother or uncle.”

Huge difference

She said the pay increase is going to make a huge difference. She has dealt with people who suffer from dementia and said you learn how to handle them.

“It’s all about giving them back their mana so they feel they have control. You learn to go along for the ride with them, even when they start accusing you of taking things.

“You have to remember not to take it personally, it's just part of their condition.”

CCS Disability Action has 120 staff working in Gisborne, Wairoa and surrounding rural areas who will potentially benefit from the increase.

They provide home-based and community support for people with a disablilty and their families.

CCS executive director David Matthews is delighted for support staff who have been underpaid because of the overall under-funding of the sector.

“Our hope is that our government contracts will now be adjusted to accommodate not just the increase in pay rates for support staff, but also the inevitable flow-on costs resulting from this agreement," he said.

"The sector needs an overall boost to its funding, not just an adjustment because of these new and welcome pay rates.”

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman has described the pay increase as the largest in New Zealand’s history, and that it will benefit some of New Zealand’s lowest-paid workers. The work force is mainly female and part-time with an average wage of between $16 and $18 an hour.

Increase from July 1

The historic pay equity agreement will increase wages to between $19 and $27 per hour over five years. For the workers it won’t be backdated but will take immediate effect from July 1.

E tu Union industry co-ordinator Alastair Duncan has been involved in negotiations from the beginning and said the pay offer is the first but hugely important step.

“There are meetings over the next two months across the sector to vote on the offer and presuming it is agreed, it is likely the pay will start in July,” he said.

Age Concern Tairawhiti CEO Frances Toroa says her organisation is celebrating the success of the settlement to increase wages across the aged care and disability sectors, and is thankful for all the hard work put in by the union on behalf of workers.

“They deserve every cent of the pay rise, as they do such an important job with the elderly,” she said.

She hopes this will keep more good people in the industry, as many leave because they can't make ends meet.

“We are interested in the wellbeing of both caregivers and the elderly. Higher wages will take off some of the financial pressure and reduce stress.”

For some elderly who have no family, caregivers can be the only human contact they have.


Your email address will not be published. Comments will display after being approved by a staff member. Comments may be edited for clarity.

Poll

  • Voting please wait...
    Your vote has been cast. Reloading page...
    The region’s roads are in a bad state and need greater investment. What options would you prefer to increase the amount of local money committed to roading?

    Choose in order of preference, selecting just the options you think are worth considering and rate your preferred option as 1, next 2, etc.

    See also:
    Roading crisis ‘too big’, August 11 lead story

    Select multiple options. Press 'Clear' button to start over.
    Clear