No Christmas present for disability workers in Mini Budget

The disability sector had hoped to see a commitment from the Government to fund pay equity for care and support workers in today’s Mini Budget, but has been left empty-handed, says New Zealand Disability Support Network CEO Peter Reynolds.

“The 65,000 Kiwi care and support workers deserve fair pay for the help they give to hundreds of thousands of disabled, elderly, and unwell New Zealanders,” says Reynolds.

“Disability providers have been working with the unions and government agencies to settle a pay equity deal that would deliver for these underpaid workers and help address the crippling workforce shortage in this sector.

“We can’t make a deal until the Government stumps up with the money. Disability providers are mostly government-funded – we want to pay our staff more, but first the Government needs to give us the means to do it.

“The pay equity process has been frozen since July, waiting on Cabinet to sign off on the money needed. We had hoped that the Mini-Budget would contain a commitment from the Government to settling the claim. Pay equity is still listed as an ” unquantifiable contingent liability” for the government.

“Our sector is at a crisis point. The legislation covering care and support workers expires on 31 December. We expect workers to start taking providers to court to get fair pay. If that happens, disability services won’t have the money to pay for any higher wages the courts award. We will have providers cutting services and going out of business. “Funding the pay equity settlement needs to be at the top of Cabinet’s agenda when it next meets,” says Reynolds.