About 8% of Southern District Health Board staff are paid
less than the amount deemed a ''living wage'' by fair pay
advocates, new figures show.
An Official Information Act request revealed 378 staff are
paid less than $18.40 per hour.
It follows the disclosure in the board's last annual report
that the number earning more than $100,000 a year increased
by 10% in a single year.
The board employs about 4500 staff. Patient services director
Lexie O'Shea said all workers received more than the legal
minimum of $13.75 per hour.
''In many cases, these employees listed are paid rates set in
agreement with their union representatives,'' Mrs O'Shea
The figures show DHB employees, but not those of
community-based or private companies providing DHB-funded
services, such as home help.
Service and Food Workers Union national secretary John Ryall
said DHBs needed to address inequalities in employees' wages,
but the main issue was sector underfunding.
Unions were meeting district health board representatives in
Wellington early next month about the ''living wage''
campaign, the first of what was intended to be a series of
It was not part of formal wage negotiations, but the
agreement to work on the ''living wage'' issue arose from the
past round of pay talks.
That DHBs were ''prepared to keep talking about [the living
wage]'' was heartening.
Boards should pay a wage that supported the health of the
people who worked in it, he said. This in turn would send a
message to the wider community about the health benefits of
employers paying workers fairly.
''The way we have approached it is to raise the issue about
the living wage, get some debate going on it, then try to
confront the DHBs as an arm of government to consider ways in
which the plight of low income workers in health sector can
Public Service Association national secretary Brenda Pilott,
when contacted, blamed sector underfunding for the low pay of
clerical and other workers.
That the pay of those at the ''top end'' of the health board
appeared to creep up reflected New Zealand's worsening wage
District health boards' employment strategy group chairman
Graham Dyer said, when contacted, DHBs were committed to
working constructively with unions on wage matters, but there
was, however, ''not a lot of money'' in health for higher
Approached for comment about pay issues, a spokeswoman for
Health Minister Tony Ryall said comments by him would not be
SDHB workers paid less than a ''living wage''
• Administration, clerical: 202
• Clinical support: 59
• Non-clinical support: 117