On 3 November a post on this website reported on the struggle of aged care workers employed by the Claud Switzer Memorial Trust residential care home in Kaitaia. The struggle is ongoing, as recounted by a 15 December media release by the workers’ union, E tū. Today and tomorrow, 16th and 17th December, E tū members will be on strike, for the fifth time, from 7am to 9am.
The aged care workers deserve the support of everyone. In collective agreement negotiation stretching back to March Claud Switzer management are insisting on cutting the weekend allowance from $5 an hour to just $12 for the whole shift. In a fresh move to put pressure on union members, management are threatening to cut some workers’ hours. An E tū member said: “We also want to see our hours secured. It’s ridiculous and makes no sense why they would suggest cuts to workers’ hours when we are so short staffed already.”
The union says that “in the past fortnight, the employer brought in unvaccinated workers under exemption to fill staffing shortages – a move members say neither they nor the residents were notified about.”
E tū organiser Annie Tothill says: “In our view, it defies all logic and morality to propose a reduction in some members’ hours, when the management claims there is a staffing shortage and was prepared to risk having staff who are not vaccinated caring for vulnerable and elderly residents.”
As explained in the previous post, the background to this dispute is the 2017 pay equity settlement that gave a substantial pay boost for aged care workers. That settlement was the result of a years’ long struggle through the courts to have the interpretation of the 1972 Equal Pay Act clarified. Claud Switzer management are trying to clawback the 2017 gains.
The struggle for equal pay has been a long, long road, and it is far from over.