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Resident's support for strike action 'heartening'.

The level of residents' support for 1500 Oceania employees who took strike action earlier this month, was heartening, according to NZNO organiser David Wait. The NZNO and Service and Food Workers' Union members took the action in support of a cost-of-living pay claim of around three per cent. "We knew the residents were on our side but it was heartening to see so many on picket lines around the country. It demonstrated the close bond our members have with residents," he said.

Another highlight of the industrial action was a haka of support on the Auckland picket line, by striking Maritime Union of New Zealand members employed by Ports of Auckland Ltd.

Negotiations with Oceania, the country's largest aged-care chain, have been going on for eight months. Oceania's best offer was a pay increase of one per cent from ratification, followed by two further one per cent increases for two years, and cuts to overtime. It would also see NZNO and SFWU members employed casually, removed from the collective agreement.

Oceania's parent company, Retirement Care NZ, is controlled by Macquarie Global Infrastructure Fund 11, an Australian-controlled equity firm with interests in rest homes here. Polish shipyards and French wind farms. "Clearly, those in control of Oceania are only interested in returns to shareholders, not the pay and conditions of those providing care to residents. Nine hundred Oceania staff are on a rate of $14.03 an hour and 600 of those are on $13.61/hr, just 11 cents above the new minimum wage," Wait said.

He pointed out that, in 2010 and 2011, Oceania failed to pass on to staff, government funding increases, channelled through district health boards. Members had already made large concessions on their original pay claim of 5.3 per cent but despite this, Oceania had still refused to come up with a reasonable offer covering pay, staffing levels and retaining existing conditions, Wait said.

Mediation earlier this month was unsuccessful and two strikes--from 5am to 9am and from 4pm to 6pm--were held on March 7.

Mediation was scheduled this month for agedcare workers employed by Radius, who have also voted for strike action. Wait said he hoped Radius would learn something from the level of residents' support for the Oceania workers.

Submisison to Select Committee:

The Health Select Committee has asked NZNO and the SFWU to provide it with a written submission, clarifying matters raised by last year's joint union petition calling for proper funding of aged care. The petition, calling for minimum staffing levels, fair pay, nationally consistent training and transparency regarding public funding for aged care, was signed by close to 11,000 people and presented at Parliament in late September last year. It was then referred to the Health Select Committee for consideration.


NZNO professional and industrial staff worked on the submisison which had to be with the committee earlier this month.
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Title Annotation:SECTOR REPORTS
Publication:Kai Tiaki: Nursing New Zealand
Geographic Code:80OCE
Date:Mar 1, 2012
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