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(from overseas please dial +64 9 375 2680)Minimum wage increase puts pressure on Aged Care Scrooges
Posted On: Wednesday, 21 December 2005
'Today's increase in the minimum wage to $10.25 an hour is good news for caregivers currently receiving as little as $9.50,' says New Zealand Nurses Organisation spokesperson Jane Kostanich.
'This means some of the lowest paying employers in aged care will be forced to increase the pay of their hardworking, skilled and dedicated workforce.'
Jane Kostanich said among those employers was Guardian Healthcare Group which has just made an offer to their caregivers of a starting rate of less than the new minimum wage after months of negotiations and industrial action.
'Guardian Healthcare will now have to increase their offer, but $10.25 is also nowhere near adequate for the important job caregivers do caring for the most vulnerable, sick and frail in our community,' she said.
Jane Kostanich said NZNO members Guardian Healthcare Group were prepared to take limited strike action of a few hours over New Year but Guardian had threatened to lock them out and refused to specify how long the lockout would be for.
'Our members cannot afford to lose even more money in an extended lockout,' said Jane Kostanich.
'This sort of behaviour shows some employers in aged care up as scrooges, who continue to undervalue their workers by paying as low as they can,' she said.
Jane Kostanich said Guardian Healthcare's workforce were not the only workers in aged care who would benefit from the increase in the minimum wage.
'It is a disgrace that the average hourly rate for caregivers is $10.80 and although the increase in the minimum wage is welcome, much more must be done to ensure a decent, fair wage for caregivers, nurses and support workers in aged care who are all shockingly underpaid,' she said.
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