A union representing care support workers is nervous
about a Southern District Health Board plan to enable transfer
of workers to new employers by a different legal mechanism from
the vulnerable workers' protection clause.
A letter from funding and finance director Robert
Mackway-Jones to outgoing home support providers said an
''alternative arrangement'' removed legal uncertainty and
process requirements associated with Part 6A in the
Employment Relations Act.
Part 6A would not cover all care support workers. For
instance, it would not cover workers who provided only
personal care. The board said care support workers would be
offered the same terms and conditions by their new employer.
However, it would be up to workers to negotiate the terms.
''It is expected that, even if precisely the same terms
cannot be offered, the offer of employment will be no less
favourable to the support workers.''
Caregivers and Related Employees union organiser Mike Hanifin
said the move suggested an ''agenda'' at work to reduce
workers' pay and conditions.
At face value, it did not seem to comply with the Act for
workers who were eligible for Part 6A, he said. There was
confusion, and a lack of information and clarification was
not helping, he said.
Recent Internet advertisements for carers to work for new
provider Royal District Nursing Service New Zealand (RDNS NZ)
were a ''huge concern'' for the union and workers, he said.
The Australian-owned organisation also advertised in
Saturday's Otago Daily Times for a human resources officer
(Dunedin based), administration staff (Dunedin and
Invercargill), and care managers (Dunedin and Invercargill).
RDNS NZ was ''delighted to be part of Southland'' now, the
When contacted, Mr Mackway-Jones was surprised by Mr
Hanifin's comments, as the arrangement was a good deal for
workers and covered more than just those eligible for
protection as vulnerable workers.
Workers should retain the same benefits and entitlements
under the plan, which had been agreed with incoming
providers, he said.
''What we're proposing to do is pick up a wider group of
workers ... and the mechanism is to transfer that wider group
of workers from one provider to the other.''
He acknowledged the board could not ''enforce'' the
arrangement, but it had done all it could in a legally
Dunedin South Labour MP Clare Curran said the arrangement for
workers appeared reasonable, given the restrictions of the
vulnerable workers' clause.
However, the board needed to improve its communication with
all concerned to avoid confusion and stress, she said.