Hawke's Bay care workers joined a nationwide rally for pay equity with their gathering outside Tukituki MP Anna Lorck's office on Monday.
The historic Care and Support Workers (Pay Equity) Settlement Act passed in 2017 after aged care worker Kristine Bartlett took an equal pay claim to court on behalf of thousands of New Zealand care workers in residential aged care, disability services, mental health and addiction services and community support for the elderly and disabled.
Now the agreement is reaching the end of its five-year span, but negotiations for a new agreement have hit a stalemate.
E tū member organiser and support worker for Geneva, Tamara Baddeley said three unions started negotiations with the Government just over a year ago to get the agreement extended or renewed so they could work with them for a fair pay agreement or file a new pay equity case.
After the unions submitted their pay requests she said the Government counter-offered 70 cents more an hour for 18 months with no chance for negotiation.
"The three unions together decided we would take a day of action and have rallies in as many places as we could."
"There have been rallies all over the country, outside Jacinda's office in Auckland, in Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin at David Clark's office, here in Hastings, just wherever we can get some people together."
The group has a petition calling on the Government to "significantly increase care and support rates, so our work and sector are respected and valued, and provide certainty as to future increases".
Signatures from the rallies across the country will be gathered together and counted at the end of this week.
Tukituki MP Anna Lorck said she met with the protesters to chat.
"My job today was to listen," she said.
She said she understood some of the challenges workers in the industry faced from her experience working at the DHB and from receiving some of their care when injured.
"I've experienced some of their care and service personally."
She said the health sector had been chronically underfunded in the past and she and the Labour party believed in fair and equitable pay.
Baddeley said the Government and the unions will go back into negotiations next week.