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Pay dispute ends for Oceania nurses

By Karen Keast | Last Updated: 19-11-2013

Oceania nurses secure a new pay agreement

Around 1500 nurses and staff at New Zealand’s largest aged care provider have secured a 3.22 per cent pay rise, putting an end to their long-running pay dispute.

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation and the Service and Food Workers Union announced the deal, which fell slightly short of the union’s calls for a 3.5 per cent pay rise, but which also secured protection of overtime and other rights.

At its peak, the protracted nine-month dispute involved four-hour nursing strikes at more than 20 of Oceania Group’s 58 retirement villages and rest homes nationally, which provide care for more than 4000 New Zealanders.

The industrial action followed reports many experienced Oceania nurses were earning up to $9000 less than similarly experienced colleagues at public hospitals.

SFWU spokesperson

Alastair Duncan said the dispute highlighted widespread underfunding in the sector and a lack of focus on valuing care staff.

“The key issue in this dispute was getting government money passed on to the workforce and we are pleased that Oceania has now understood the need to pass on the funding it receives from District Health Boards to the care staff,” he said.

The Oceania agreement comes after a Human Rights Commission report found discrimination is rife against New Zealand’s 48,000 aged care workers, with many workers found to be underpaid and undervalued, despite the sector evolving into one of the country’s fastest growing industries.

NZNO spokesperson David Wait said it was time for unions and employers to work together.

“The desperate need for better funding, safe staffing and mandatory training and support are all highlighted in the (Commission’s) report,” Mr Wait said.

“As the largest care provider in the sector we expect Oceania to use its influence to engage with the government and DHBs so that there truly can be a ‘fair share, for aged care’,” Mr Duncan said.

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