Care and support workers call “Time’s Up”, take long-overdue pay equity claim to the ERA

Unions for care and support workers are taking a long-overdue pay equity claim to the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) in Wellington at 2pm today.

Almost two years have passed since the claim was initiated with 15 employers and no settlement has been reached. The claim could have implications for 65,000 people working in disability, home, and mental health support, and aged care work.

“Support workers are really struggling. Today we’re calling time’s up – we need pay equity now,” says PSA Delegate and Home Support Worker, Rose Penfold.

This is a significant escalation after years of slow and stalled progress. The application to the ERA asks it to make a determination on what the rates of remuneration are for people doing this work free from gender-based discrimination.

The unions – the Public Service Association, E tū, and the New Zealand Nurses Organisation – have worked with employers and Government in good faith for two years to reach a settleme nt.

“We’ve come to the ERA because we can’t wait any longer,” says E tū Industry Council Convenor and Support Worker, Marianne Bishop.

“We need care and support workers to have decent jobs, with decent wages. We need access to the right qualifications so we can deliver the quality of care our clients deserve,” said Bishop.

The ERA has the authority to fix rates of remuneration to resolve a pay equity claim. The ERA may decide to refer the parties to mediation in the first instance.

“We continue to strongly urge the Government to commit to fully funding a fair settlement, just as they have done before,” said NZNO Pay Equity Lead, Glenda Alexander.

Today’s action follows the legacy of the historic 2017 settlement – delivered by the last National-led Government – championed by Lower Hutt aged care worker Kristine Bartlett together with the unions.

Unions have provided extensive evidence that Aotearoa’s disability, home, and mental health support workers, and aged care workers, are once again being significantly underpaid because of gender-based discrimination.

The claim was initiated on July 1, 2022. It directly covers 17,500 workers at 15 employers and has implications for a further 47,500 care and support workers and their employers – many of whom are covered by companion pay equity claims.

/Public Release. View in full here.