One of the providers eliminated by the board's rationalisation is its own service, which employs 17 workers.
Unlike other affected workers, the health board's workers were set to be split three ways, with a third for each of the three selected providers, Access, Healthcare NZ and the Australian-owned Royal District Nursing Service New Zealand.
Service and Food Workers Union senior organiser Stevan Briggs said the workers were on a collective agreement with a top rate of $17.53 an hour. As well as other benefits, they receive the recommended Inland Revenue Department mileage rate of 77c an hour.
He expected workers to retain the same pay and conditions, although the specifics were being worked through.
''Certainly, the indications to date ... from Southern District Health Board are, yes, they will keep their same terms and conditions.''
The workers preferred one provider as a prospective employer over the other two, he said.
They were ''not happy'' about the changes, he said.
DHB-employed workers were paid ''considerably higher'' than their colleagues in the private sector, he said.
Funding and finance executive director Robert Mackway-Jones, in an email, said the service provided short-term care for clients for up to six weeks after hospital discharge.
Because of the short-term nature of the work, employees could be split between providers without risking lack of continuity for clients.
''I would like to re-emphasise that for clients the new model of care will result in a better, more flexible service, and that staff will have better support and more opportunities for training and career progression,'' he said.
Asked about the mileage rate, Mr Mackway-Jones said the board was working through the issues with staff.
''We are working through issues around transition with affected DHB staff. We are committed to ensuring the best interests of staff and clients are looked after as we move through the transition process.''
Earlier this week, Access chief executive Graeme Titcombe acknowledged sector pay rates were ''deplorable''. Access paid carers between $14 and $16 an hour, and 30c per km for mileage.
The changeover to the new providers starts from March 1, with a four-month transition period.
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