Regular negotiation meetings are now occurring every week with the Government over a proposed settlement for delivery of equal pay to the care and support sector. The Government negotiators have continued to reaffirm their commitment to reaching a settlement.
If union, provider and crown negotiators reach agreement on a proposed settlement this would require meetings by workers employed in aged care residential, home support and disability support to vote to accept or reject this (i.e. ratification meetings). We would expect these meetings to occur between February and April next year.
If these meetings vote to support the settlement proposal it would then be signed by the unions (E tū, NZNO and PSA).
It would probably also require, as did the 2011 sleepover and the 2015 home support in-between travel settlements, legislation to be passed to ensure the new agreed pay rates are enforceable by the unions in the courts.
Negotiations with the Government across large sectors are never as straight forward as negotiating with one employer. The large number of different workplaces covered by these negotiations adds to their complexity. We are focused on getting the best offer for you.
Matters for negotiation include not only the rates of pay, ensuring a pay scale and detailed wording to ensure a transition of existing care and support workers on to that scale, but also a clear method of progression through the pay scale so it is fair and equitable for all workers.
Any settlement offer is likely to be phased in over a period of time and there will be issues to be negotiated about how long this time period is. It is important to us to make sure that the agreed figures don’t lose their value through inflation and other cost pressures.
We also need to agree wording so that the pay rates are delivered to care and support workers without reducing other conditions, such as long service leave, sick leave or night/weekend allowances, to offset any costs.
Most importantly, the unions will want to make sure that all care and support workers are released from work to attend paid ratification meetings to discuss and have a free vote on any proposed settlement.
Meanwhile the Government has announced its acceptance of the recommendations of the Joint Working Group on Pay Equity that allow other women workers in female pre-dominant workforces a simple process to pursue equal pay for work of equal value.
The report from the Joint Pay Equity Working Group, made up of employer, union and government representatives, presented its report to the Government in May and there has been a long delay in getting Government sign-off.
The Government will be introducing legislation into parliament next year to amend the Equal Pay Act and the Employment Relations Act to include the Joint Pay Equity Group recommendations in these laws.
Other equal pay cases, including those filed by school support staff and public sector social workers, have been on hold while the Government position on the Joint Pay Equity Working Group recommendations was being considered. These cases can now be progressed.
If you want to find out more about equal pay then ring the E tū Union Support Centre on 0800 186 466
24 November 2016