A strike is planned at a Hastings rest-home where insufficient Government funding means some staff are getting some of the smallest aged-care pay-packets in New Zealand.

The action is planned for Colwyn House, where about 25 members of the Service and Food Workers Union will take industrial action from Monday, two hours a day for five days, if they are unable to get a better deal.

Union organiser Thomas O'Neil said union and Anglican Care employer representatives have met MPs to try to get better funding for the running of the three-wing, 48-bed facilities.

The union claims the District Health Board is channelling some clients to Colwyn because it is cheaper than other options.


Mr O'Neil said rates paid to the SFWU members - believed to the lowest-paid Anglican Care staff in New Zealand and about a third of the full staff of care and administrative personnel at the facilities off Duke St, Mahora - start at $13.85 an hour (10 cents above the adult minimum wage) and stop at $15.

In negotiations dating back six months, the employers are offering a 1.5 per cent increase, about 20 cents an hour for the lowest-paid, and Mr O'Neil said: "Understandably, our members feel undervalued."

He said AT Colwyn House the Government funding is "very low" but Colwyn delivers high acuity psychogeriatric services to the most frail and elderly in society, and it is "simply not acceptable" its staff pay rates are lower than other aged care facilities."

"Staff doing the same work at the DHB are paid considerably more," he said. "And often the DHB sends clients to Colwyn because it is the cheaper option."

New Zealand Nurses Organisation spokesperson Liz Robinson said Government funding for such care as that provided by Anglican Care, similar organisations and their staff remains "chronically poor".

The organisations want to provide appropriate pay and conditions, she said, adding: "Funding is definitely a Government issue."

27 Nov, 2013 7:00am
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27 Nov, 2013 5:00am
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Hastings-based Government Tukituki MP Craig Foss said he had visited Colwyn House "a long time ago" - earlier this year he thought. Staff raised concerns and, not being in a position to become involved in employment negotiations, he mentioned the general issues to the Minister of Health.

"It is a very challenging part of health care," he said.

Anglican Care (Waiapu) CEO Peter O'Brien could not be contacted for comment early last night.