$500m pay rise for care workers

A historic pay deal for thousands of low-income care workers, mainly women, will be signed off today.

It will affect about 55,000 staff in government-funded sectors involving aged care, home support and disability services.

The deal is estimated to cost more than $500 million annually once it's fully implemented over the next five years. The details are expected to be revealed on Tuesday afternoon.

The deal comes after a long-running case lodged by the Service and Food Workers' Union with rest home worker Kristine Bartlett. She now could see a pay rise from $16 an hour to about $23 an hour, NZME reports.

Ms Bartlett argued her employer Terranova Homes violated equal pay for equal work legislation, saying she would get more money if she was not working in an industry dominated by female staff.

Prime Minister Bill English told The AM Show there will be pay increases, and he hopes it will make a big difference.

"What we've been aiming to do is solve the problem that came out of the original court case."

He says he'll have more to say about it later on Tuesday.

"Women have been consciously underpaid and have been fighting for more pay for far too long. Today's announcement is long overdue," Green Party women's spokesperson Jan Logie said.

 "Kristine Bartlett is a hero for her determination to see women paid more – despite Government interventions and stalling – and so are the thousands of other women who have joined her in this fight. 

"The most lowly paid workers in New Zealand shouldn't have had to fund court case after court case, with the Government opposing their efforts to see more pay."

She has a member's bill on pay transparency for women being voted on in May. 

"My bill would see gender pay transparency indexes published so that women know if they are being underpaid.

"We can fix the gender pay imbalance in this country and ensure that every woman is paid what she's worth.

"Even today's announcement will still be phased in over many years, and these women have waited too long already. There is no moral justification for making women wait longer," she said.


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