A large group of Kāpiti care workers seeking fair wages were given huge support by drivers passing their protest demonstration in Paraparaumu today.
Truck drivers, holidaymakers and Kāpiti locals honked their support as they passed the demonstrators holding banners beside SHI at Kāpiti Lights with messages such as ‘A Fair Share for Aged Care.’
More than 40 care workers from Oceania’s Eldon Lodge home – many of them Filipino temporary workers – took part in the protest, which was organised by the Service and Food Workers Union (SFWU) and the NZ Nurses Organisation. They were supported by two MP’s and local people worried about conditions in rest homes.
The SFWU said their workers are amongst the lowest paid in NZ — with 600 Oceania staff on $13.61. (The minimum wage is $13.50).
Filipino workers show courage
Louella Williams, of the Nurses organisation, said the Filipino staff from Eldon Lodge showed ‘a lot of guts to be here – many will have work permits coming up for renewal soon.’
Labour MP Kris Faafoi, who has attended several of the pay demonstrations in the Wellington region, said the workers deserved to be getting a fair deal – and they were getting a lot of support from the community.
And Green MP Denise Roche said it was ‘sad’ the dispute had been going on for so long.
Staff at Eldon Lodge are taking strike action at the same time as staff at 29 other Oceania facilities around the country.
It was the first time the Kāpiti workers – and workers from provincial rest homes in Gisborne, Whitianga, Pahiatua, Nelson, Stoke and Hawkes Bay — had joined in the national action.
Six weeks of strike actions
And today’s four-hour strike by up to 1500 workers — follows strikes at 22 other sites which have been taking action for the past six weeks.
Joint union spokesperson Alastair Duncan says: “In a sector that should be all about caring Oceania (owner of Eldon Lodge as well as the other rest homes) does not seem to understand that there’s no heart beat on a balance sheet.
Mr Duncan adds: “Last June Oceania received a 2.6% funding increase from every District Health Board. It has failed to pass that money on to staff and is persisting with its proposals to drip feed this money by installments.”