Rest-home staff to issue 14-day notice

Mike Hanifin.
Mike Hanifin.
Dunedin and Oamaru Presbyterian Support rest-home workers look set to take industrial action and others around the region may follow.

Negotiations between Care union members and employers at Presbyterian Support Enliven facilities across Otago are faltering and it is expected a 14-day notice of industrial action will be issued by September 29, a union spokesman says.

Union advocate Mike Hanifin made the call after Oamaru’s Iona Enliven Care Home laundry, kitchen and housekeeping staff voted unanimously last week to take action,  most probably a work-to-rule rather than a walk-out.

The workers, along with other Care union members in Otago Presbyterian Support Enliven, otherwise known as Presbyterian Support Otago (PSO), facilities have started to vote for action as they battle to get a pay rise in line with other aged-care workers.

The two facilities that have voted unanimously to take action are in Oamaru and Dunedin: Iona Enliven Care Home and Saint Andrew’s Home and Hospital.Two other sites would be visited next, Holmdene in Balclutha and Ross Home in Dunedin,  for a vote to take place.

The two other facilities where Care had members, Ranui in Alexandra and Taieri Court in Mosgiel, were to be visited to see if the small union membership at the sites was interested in taking part in action to support the larger sites.

From August 24, the PSO had raised its pay offer from 1.8%  to 2.25%, Mr Hanifin said, but what staff wanted was a 9% increase to almost match a July deal caregivers, activities staff and physio assistants were given.

Using the example of someone on $16.70 per hour, the PSO’s initial deal on the table was an increase of 30c an hour, he said.

The new offer was an increase of 37c an hour.

Pay brackets for staff were as follows: cooks ranged from $16.30 to $16.80 an hour and service workers ranged from $15.32 to $16.29, he said.

Mr Hanifin said in the past month there had been two troubling incidents where a union meeting notice was taken down at one facility and a petition confiscated at another.

PSO spokesman Mark Long said from the point of view of staff in his organisation, negotiations were still under way with the union.

"We’ve been working through the processes with them."

Regarding the union notice being taken down, it had been placed on a non-union notice board, he said, and the petition had also been put in the "wrong place".

Talks about each incident had taken place to avoid anything similar in the future, he said.

Mr Hanifin said negotiations had been continuing for about two months and were part of an annual exercise for pay rises.

He expected a 14-day notice of industrial action would be issued by September 29.

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