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Crisis of aged care exposed in Human Rights Commission report
Posted On: Sunday, 27 May 2012

The Service and Food Workers Union Ngā Ringa Tota said today a report on the aged care sector conducted by the Human Rights Commission (HRC) contained no surprises and should prompt immediate action from Government, DHBs and aged care employers.

“This report rightly identifies the ‘sense of crisis that surrounds aged care’ and confirms what our union has been saying for a very long time,” said SFWU National Secretary John Ryall.

“The poverty wages, low staffing levels and lack of training in aged care are a national scandal which must be addressed without further delay.”

John Ryall said Government should urgently implement the report’s recommendations.

“The HRC is spot on. A fundamental human right is being breached by inaction on pay equality in the aged care sector. The workforce is marginalised, despite the fact that these workers undertake the care of some of the most vulnerable New Zealanders.”

John Ryall said the HRC has rightly pointed to the indefensible difference in pay rates between healthcare assistants in public hospitals and caregivers in aged care.

“These workforces are both employed through taxpayer funds distributed via DHBs. It is a scandal that caregivers in aged care are paid an average $14.50 an hour, and many are paid the minimum wage of $13.50, when their counterparts in public hospitals are paid substantially more,” he said.

John Ryall said the SFWU strongly endorsed HRC's call that the Minister of Health directs DHBs to develop a mechanism to achieve pay parity.

“Our union also strongly supports the recommended training and qualifications for all staff and the call for transparency in DHB accounting for public money which should be “passed on” to the aged care workforce," he said.

“All New Zealanders should receive a living wage which enables them not just to survive but to participate in society,” said John Ryall. “The pay rates in aged care fall far short of a living wage.”

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