Strike over pay to hit rest homes

Oceania will go on strike over pay. Photo / Thinkstock
Oceania will go on strike over pay. Photo / Thinkstock

Caregivers, nurses and service workers at the biggest rest home chain in the country will go on strike on Thursday over pay.

The workers at Oceania announced the strike action after mediation talks on Friday "failed to produce a solution".

Up to 1500 members of the Nurses Organisation and the Service and Food Workers Union Nga Ringa Tota will join the two-hour strike from 8.30am.

Joint union spokesman Alastair Duncan said the strike was timed to minimise any impact on residents.

"Residents and families are supportive of the workforce but management appear deaf to their concerns," he said.

The union and Oceania have been bargaining for eight months over the rest home chain's refusal to meet a staff claim for a 3.5 per cent cost-of-living increase.

Duncan said Oceania had chosen to ignore the people who were the backbone of its business.

The dispute showed the failure of the public-private partnership model when applied to the health sector, he said.

"Profit has become the focus at the expense of care. Not only has Oceania refused to pass on public money to the care staff, it also wants to make cuts to overtime and exclude several hundred staff from the collective as a condition of settlement."

Meanwhile, Affco meat company has threatened to lock out more than 700 workers across the North Island after the collapse of negotiations.

The Meat Workers Union and Affco have been bickering for 18 months over a collective employment dispute and negotiating a new agreement for the past three months.

Meat Workers Union secretary Dave Eastlake said the company was trying to starve workers into accepting changes to its collective employment agreement, giving the company total flexibility in its terms of employ-ment.

Labour's spokeswoman for labour issues, Darien Fenton, said the lockout notice was another indication of worsening industrial relations in New Zealand.

"Locking out the entire workforce across the country is extreme."

Fenton said there appeared to be a growing determination among some employers to "casualise and deunionise their workplaces, as we are seeing at the Ports of Auckland".

- NZ Herald

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