Sorry Mr Farrar, We Disagree

Pay rates should primarily be determined by demand and supply – not by legislation, so says prominent blogger David Farrar. This is why he objects to the Employment Court ruling that aged care workers are entitled to equal pay.

It is a point of view that does not sit well with the Alliance Party. Our commitment to the common good means that we believe that everyone is entitled to a liveable income no matter what. In any case for aged care workers, and many other occupations, the supply and demand ship has long since sailed. Continue reading

Care Work Is A Career Not Women’s Work Done On The Cheap

The Alliance Party is delighted that things are hotting up in the equal pay for aged care workers campaign. The appeal to the Employment Court ruling is due to be heard at the end of January. Many more workers have come forward and further applications have been lodged with the Employment Relations Authority. According the unions involved, thousands more are expected to join the action in the new year. Continue reading

Please Don’t Appeal the Employment Court’s Aged Care Worker Gender Pay Decision

There is no excuse for the appalling wages paid to workers in the aged care and disability sectors. It is blatant discrimination against the – mainly – women who do the work and the people they work with; the elderly and people with disabilities.

At the very least care workers deserve to receive the living wage of $18.40 per hour. But in the long term they should receive a wage commensurate with more male dominated sectors requiring similar skills such as justice and mental health. Continue reading

Taihape situation shows dangers of private health providers

The failure of Otaihape Health Trust to manage its budget shows the danger of relying on private providers to service New Zealand’s health needs, says Alliance Party Health Spokesperson Tom Dowie.
The trust which runs the majority of Taihape’s health services is facing bankruptcy and is trying to get staff to take massive pay cuts to stave off bankruptcy.
“This is a situation where management budgeting failures have resulted in demands that hard working nurses, who are the backbone of any health service, are being asked to take massive pay cuts, or lose their jobs.”
Mr Dowie backed calls from nursing staff for a statutory manager to take over the running of Taihape’s health service.
“When admin expenses increase threefold in one year, someone has lost sight of the primary reason for the service, which is health care. The sooner a statutory manager is appointed, the better.”
The Alliance Party believes that health is a Government responsibility and should be delivered by the Government.
“Trusts can always wind up and walk away from their responsibility and the Government should not be supporting this risky form of health provision”.

Service cuts for elderly must be resisted

The Alliance Party has joined calls from Age Concern and others to stop an Otago and Southland District Health Board move to scrap home help services for the elderly.
Alliance Party health spokesperson Tom Dowie says the ultimate responsibility for the issue lies with the National Government and its Minister of Health Tony Ryall.
Mr Dowie says the plan is false economics that will make the standard of living worse for many elderly people and increase the risk of injury or accident around the home.
The plan is being carried out save $4 million annually off DHB spending by dropping services to around 3,500 mostly elderly people.
At the same time, the DHBs have announced plans to make it harder to be admitted to a rest home.
“This is another blow to the vulnerable people of the South,” says Mr Dowie.
He says the moves are among many concerning trends including the recent drive by the DHB’s to charge patients presenting at Accident and Emergency departments who cannot afford to see private GPs.
“We are moving away from a free, taxpayer-funded public health system step by step,” says Mr Dowie.
He says the Alliance is concerned at the degradation of service to the public, especially when it comes to our most vulnerable citizens.
“Where do you go if you are sick and you don’t have the money to see a GP?” says Mr Dowie.
“Do you wait until you are acutely ill and have to be admitted to hospital at ten times the cost?”
The Alliance Party will fully fund the New Zealand health system through a progressive taxation system that grows the services to its citizens and by “ring fencing” health spending as a proportion of GDP.


For more information, contact Alliance Party health spokesperson Tom Dowie on 0212036078

Home help for elderly cuts a disgrace

The Alliance Party says decisions to cut home help services for the elderly are an indictment on the National Government.

Alliance Party co-leader Kay Murray says it is a disgraceful situation that basic home help services to the elderly in Otago and Southland are being cut due to inadequate funding.

The Otago and Southland district health boards confirmed yesterday that housework help for the elderly will be cut, to save about $4 million a year.

1500 people in Otago and 500 Southlanders will receive letters telling them the service is to be discontinued.

Ms Murray rejected the attitude that there was a lack of money for such services.

“We are now in the position in Dunedin where the wellbeing of our elderly people has been downgraded to an optional luxury, and optional luxuries such as a rugby stadium get handouts of millions from central Government.”

“The Government conjured up $15 million for the stadium, which would pay for almost four years of home help services for the frail elderly. The priorities are dreadfully wrong.”

Ms Murray says that with unemployment at its highest for years, at nearly 170 000 New Zealanders out of work, there was an easy solution – pay unemployed care workers a decent wage to provide home help for the elderly.

She asked what local National list MP Michael Woodhouse was doing to represent his elderly voters at the Government level.

“Elderly people have obviously found the services useful and necessary up to now, and the idea that a full assessment of elderly people’s needs can be made via a phone interview seems like a return to the worst days of the 1990s under National’s callous rule.”

“We are in a position thanks to the free market policies of successive National and Labour Government’s where many families have to have two working adults to survive, many employed on irregular hours or shift work, many in casual jobs.”

These most vulnerable families would be hard pressed to be able to support elderly family members, she says.

Ms Murray says the Government’s ongoing mania for tax cuts was threatening the social fabric of New Zealand by starving vital basic services of funding.

“New Zealanders have to realize that tax cuts are directly connected to situations like this – their elderly relatives being unable to access home help because of budget cuts.”

Ms Murray says the Alliance would like to see funding for health ring fenced at an appropriate percentage of GDP, guaranteeing a first class public health system.