Dunedin carer Vicki Taylor. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Appealing an equal pay case has put the aged care
industry into an ''awkward situation'' because it would
''love'' to pay carers more, Aged Care Association Otago
Southland board member Malcolm Hendry says.
The case opens today in the Court of Appeal in Wellington,
involving a landmark Employment Court finding last year that
acknowledged carer pay rates could be a form of gender
The industry association is funding the appeal, partly with a
$20-a-bed donation sought last month from members. If the
case forced wages up, some facilities would be put out of
business, Mr Hendry said.
''It's an awkward situation for us. As an industry we would
love our staff to be paid more, and we could just let this
run, but the risk is that we do that, and then the Government
doesn't correspondingly increase the funding.''
Dunedin carer Vicki Taylor (54) said she was disappointed the
industry had appealed, as the finding had been hugely
After 33 years in the industry, she was paid ''at least $2
under'' the amount deemed by unions a living wage, $18.40 an
The situation reflected the value placed on an occupation
deemed ''women's work''.
Carers should start on $18 an hour, with opportunities to
advance, she said.
She said she held the most senior qualification possible in
Service and Food Workers Union Dunedin organiser Ann Galloway
said more than 100 Dunedin carers had signed up to join the
pay discrimination claim case, and were hopeful the appeal
would not stymie its progress.
Lower Hutt carer Kristine Bartlett's win in the Employment
Court against employer Terranova Homes and Care sent
shockwaves through the sector.
The Crown has asked to intervene in the case, which is set
down to last two days.
Aged Care Association chief executive Martin Taylor said the
case highlighted the ''injustice'' of carer wages.
He called on the Government to use some of its expected
financial surplus to lift them. A $160 million annual
increase would fund carer wages of $17 an hour.
''Some may see [the association] defending this case as
inconsistent with supporting higher caregivers' wages but
they would be wrong.
''The reason we are defending the case is because no aged
care provider can pay higher wages unless we are funded to do