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Pay rise should be universal

Filed under: General — Miles 64 @ 4:59 pm Thu 20th April 2017

The news recently that workers in 3 female dominated areas (professions?) ie aged residential care, home support, disability services is to be heralded
It will cost $500 million a year and no doubt will be borne by the rest of us. Such a sweeping pay rise is not linked to productivity and so could set a precedent for other state workers to make a substantial collective claim. A pay rise of ,say, $10,000 a year multiplied by 20,000 secondary Teachers would still be less than half the overall cost to the tax-payer announced this week.
Indispensable that aged care givers and disability workers are, you nevertheless don’t usually see headlines to the effect ” residential care workers leaving Auckland” or “bosses look overseas for suitable disability workers”

Teaching and nursing are female dominated professions but their unions have been conspicuous by their silence. The NZEI are the only ones that have spoken out-and then only for Teacher Aides.

I am the first to applaud these workers for their victory but it still smells of misandry ie “victory for women” in the media.

There are equally deserving state professions/jobs-police, firemen, ambulance drivers, bus drivers, trades,………. All predominantly male. Where is the pay-rise for these workers?

Maybe it is time for men to lodge a complaint with the Human Rights office of discrimination based on gender.


  1. Twenty years ago Muriel Newman talked me into joining the ACT Party.

    At the second meeting I went to, Rodger Douglas gave a speech to the party faithful, and I thought, “this guy is a f..g fruit loop” and walked out.

    If this had been the speech of the day, that would have got my attention.

    Comment by Downunder — Thu 20th April 2017 @ 5:37 pm

  2. Having spent 30 years of my working life as a nurse and paramedic including 7 of my last 10 years before retirement in the aged care female dominated area I can assure you that the pay rise is well deserved and long overdue.

    Comment by JONO — Fri 21st April 2017 @ 1:47 am

  3. Yes, of course it is deserved-and I am the first to acknowledge that-as spelled out in the article.
    However the point of the article is that other, equally deserving occupations are unlikely to see any significant pay increase-if at all.
    These male dominated state jobs (Police, Firemen, Bus drivers etc)will continue to languish in the wages department.
    The Care workers pay increase was heralded as a victory for women as opposed to a victory for “workers”. Kristine Bartlett took it to the court on the basis that she had been discriminated against because of her gender.
    The reality is that it is all other state workers who are being discriminated against. Where are the unions speaking out for them? And, poignantly, why aren’t the Teachers’ and Nurses’ unions bleating the same way for their, predominantly female, members?

    Comment by Miles 64 — Fri 21st April 2017 @ 3:00 am

  4. @miles

    The point that I saw in your article, was that the decision was not linked to productivity.

    You may not have meant that the way I read it.

    It’s ‘Failure of Rome’ mentality from political body.

    Comment by Downunder — Fri 21st April 2017 @ 7:41 am

  5. The government’s capitulation here is pragmatic in election year. Government would probably have won the case legally if it chose to continue, but rather than risk losing female voters in a drawn out, constantly publicized legal battle through our Supreme Court, National government has decided to spend $2 billion of our tax contributions to appease the feminists and in the hope of protecting its female vote, perhaps even attracting a few more votes from working class people generally. This $2 billion should really be counted as National Party election spending.

    In addition, government will probably get lots of back-patting support from femaleist and white knight groups including the UN.

    Few people would begrudge paying care workers better. This would apply equally to many other work roles. However, the fact is that no other work force is paid on the basis of what they might ‘deserve’. The Employment Contracts law invented by a previous National government means that wages, terms and conditions are based on what can be negotiated between employers and workers, with only some legal bottom lines such as safety requirements and a minimum wage. Supply and demand will be the most important factor in these negotiations. Roles in high demand and with insufficient people qualified, capable or available to provide those roles will achieve higher wages and better conditions, whereas roles that are more easily filled will need to be paid less. That’s the ’employment contract’ philosophy.

    The National government has gone against its own philosophy to give special treatment to this largely female workforce. Yet again women demand and are given special treatment. Their arguments were largely spurious, claiming that if men were providing the carer roles they would be paid more. Pure speculation. Comparisons made with other categories of work were also spurious. How similar really are care workers to, say, construction workers or others that consist mainly of men? Were workplace death and injury rates considered? You can bet they were not. The argument that care workers are paid less because traditionally they have been mostly female is also questionable. Rubbish collectors, builders’ labourers, farm workers, horticultural labourers, school caretakers, sports field groundsmen and many other traditionally male work roles are also lowly paid, seldom more than the legal minimum wage.

    As for supply and demand, it seems that carers have been quite easy to find. Most of these roles don’t require a lot of qualifications, training can be given on the job and there seems to be a plentiful pool of willing candidates.

    Care workers are somewhat unusual in having their wages rely largely on government funding. For example, the wages of rest home workers come almost entirely from the amount that government pays to rest homes, most residents having their fees paid entirely by government. Rest home proprietors have long bemoaned the inadequacy of these subsidies and claimed, probably fairly, that they cannot pay workers better. Government had the option of simply providing $2 billion more subsidies but that would probably simply have gone towards the profits of the rest homes because proprietors have no need to offer higher wages in order to fill their jobs. So the National government is going against its own employment contract philosophy by making a law that requires rest homes to pay its workers more. Meanwhile, the rest of us workers, especially low paid men, continue to languish as employers tighten their purse strings until they start having difficulty filling the roles.

    As argued by Miles 64 in this post, the fair and consistent approach for government would have been to increase the minimum wage for all, then ensure that rest home and other care subsidies are sufficient to meet that minimum wage. But that would have been fair also to low paid men, and we couldn’t have that now could we?

    Comment by Ministry of Men's Affairs — Fri 21st April 2017 @ 11:33 am

  6. Actually, the care workers’ case compared their jobs with the male dominated workforce of prison officers who are paid more. The care workers claimed they and prison officers have a similar level of ‘responsibility’ and it’s only the majority gender of those two work forces that result in the wage difference. A ridiculous comparison in our opinion. There are many differences between those two work forces.

    For a start, prison officers have mainly been employed directly by a state bureaucracy and their wages remain affected by previous centralized state evaluation of their worth. Most care workers are employed by non-government organizations without the historical determinations, their wages relying mainly on the employment contracts approach. Secondly, prison officers are a more homogenous group with strong union participation whereas care workers are employed in smaller groups and in much more disparate situaitons making unionization difficult. Even if care workers got their union participation together, prison officers would have more industrial power in that strikes would cause rapid havoc whereas the problems resulting from strikes by care workers would be easier to cover up for a while. Prison officers experience more impact and stigma affecting their reputations and image than do care workers. Prison officers will seldom receive appreciation from their clients or clients’ family members. Prison officers live under constant risk of retribution towards them and their families by inmates and their associates; there is no comparison for care workers. Prison officers have to use violent force with weapons from time to time to enforce rules, to contain highly dangerous behaviour and to stop escapes. Although some care workers are under some risk from violence by demented or brain impaired clients, the level of such risk is a small fraction of what prison officers face every day.

    The Employment Court’s entertainment of the idea that care workers and prison officers are paid differently only because of gender discrimination and therefore should be paid the same appears to be based on little more than chivalry.

    Comment by Ministry of Men's Affairs — Sat 22nd April 2017 @ 10:16 am

  7. Yes the comparison with prison officers is absurd. The downright, blatant disregard of male-dominated occupations stinks. Police, firefighters, prison officers are all occupations which have a fair degree of danger. How much is that daily, constant danger worth?? And of course there is the armed forces-I can’t see them getting any notable pay-rise in the near future.

    What does this pay-rise say about how other Professions are valued(or not as the case may be)? Does this government respect cops, firemen, soldiers…? Why are they effectively ‘shat on’? The payrise awarded the care workers is really a kick in the teeth for all other state servants in the ‘people oriented’ occupations.

    Comment by Miles 64 — Sat 22nd April 2017 @ 12:25 pm

  8. The ETU union represents carers, and I gather the PSA also, which I gather is a sub-branch of ETU. I may be wrong about the PSA relationship, but its the structure related to me by carers. Someone no doubt will correct me. I actually receive care, and she gossips a lot about the office and the types of work she does. There is no doubt that some of the work can be rather confronting and gross, but not a lot is DANGEROUS. Maybe in Dementia facilities but that could be addressed by some danger money increment.
    There are a lot of carers, so I wonder what the effect upon the economy and inflation might be. What about those who do not get a matching increase, but still would have to meet price increases for groceries and services which are likely to result from the carerr’s increase. An election bribe in my opinion.

    Comment by Jerry — Sat 22nd April 2017 @ 2:01 pm

  9. @Miles 64

    I was just reading through the next post on the prostitution industry. I see the suggestion there that the working man needs sex.

    In the name of efficiency and productivity I’m wondering if the working man should be paid a sex allowance, if we’re looking at gender specific remuneration.

    If he’s single he can chose who he spends it on. If he’s married, it could be paid to his wife.

    Tell me, do you think that idea’s got legs?

    Comment by Downunder — Sun 23rd April 2017 @ 8:05 am

  10. Femaleists are so absorbed in their own gains that they don’t consider the effects on society. The demand that rest home and other care workers be paid much more is a case in point. Throughout the saga of this ‘gender discrimination’ case we have heard no mention of the implications if the femaleists get what they demand. Now that it’s a fait accompli, this article discusses some of the implications.

    The issue of affordability of aged care is hugely important in our era with a population bulge moving into old age and people living longer. The government’s electioneering generosity here will see people paying more for their own and their partners’ care. Those who die before they have spent most of their assets on the rest home will regret having less to leave their loved ones. Those who have been drained to the low level of assets they are allowed to keep before our taxes pay their rest home fees often still pay an ongoing supplement for rest home ‘extras’ (such as a tolerable room). The article makes it clear that such fees will need to increase to meet the new government-dictated wages. Their poorest customers will then be left even poorer.

    Fair enough you might say. Rest home care workers shouldn’t have to work as poorly paid slaves. But of course they are not slaves; they choose to work there in the full knowledge of what they would be paid and they can discontinue their service at any time. Also, they were paid at least the minimum wage; if that’s irrelevant then what’s the point of a minimum wage?

    Importantly, remember that the rest home customers are often not willing customers. When the authorities assess people as needing rest home care that is what they will get whether they like it or not. If they try to escape they will be caught by police and returned to the rest home. It’s an imprisoned customer pool that pays for the carers’ wages. It really is like imprisoning people then charging them for their cells, and at well above normal rental rates. The forced customers are not even given the right to end their lives. If they remain mentally sound enough to try to follow a plan such as starving themselves to death, the rest home will force nutrients into them one way or another so they will stay alive to pay some more.

    The spouses or partners of these rest home prisoners are obliged to see much of their assets chewed up by the rest home. Unless he/she had the foresight to separate formally years earlier, a partner cannot avoid most of his/her half of the ‘relationship property’ going to the rest home except for a house if it still his/her primary residence. Most of the value of the house will then go to the rest home when he/she is subsequently assessed as also needing the imprisonment.

    Given that we are all forced to become customers of the rest homes either directly through being residents or indirectly by paying taxes to cover other residents, surely the least we can expect is that the services we are forced to buy are provided as cheaply as can be negotiated? If there is plentiful supply of people to provide those services, why should we pay above the legal minimum wage? If the minimum wage is insufficient to live on, that’s a matter that needs to be addressed separately.

    The government’s move to enforce huge increases in the wages of rest home workers is far from a straightforward matter. It’s a men’s issue only because the female gender of the rest home workforce is the reason for this unusual, government-dictated wage increase.

    Comment by Man X Norton — Sun 23rd April 2017 @ 1:56 pm

  11. I’m looking at your bottom line.

    unusual government-dictated wage increase

    I understood this to be a court decision that said an increase was warranted, but didn’t quantity that as a dollar value.

    The government responded by negotiating the $$$ rather than letting a court set a value.

    If that is right shouldn’t we be looking at what that judgement said?

    Comment by Downunder — Sun 23rd April 2017 @ 3:22 pm

  12. Not intending to offend care workers, but that will happen in order to make my point.
    The care industry offers readily available employment. An income for workers. Many of those workers are otherwise unemployable. I have a case in mind where a long term unemployed person has just managed to scrape her way into a contract – training required. I have experienced a number of workers and all except one have been rather dim headed. I’m sure there are some who have higher asperations, but wonder if they don’t gravitate into an office position. I’m talking generally, so of course exceptions can be found, but as a rule, if they had more options, I would think they would try for other work. However its possible that the $27/hr might attract women [and some men] aspiring to a higher income, and just mabybe displace some existing workers. Would care improve? This definitely is an election bribe. There will be consequences.

    Comment by Jerry — Sun 23rd April 2017 @ 4:09 pm

  13. Downunder @11: The government could and should have taken the matter to the Court of Appeal. Instead it has indulged in a practice that it has not followed for other employment groups and that is inconsistent with its employment contracts philosophy. It has centrally set wages for this female work force, and it will pass special legislation for this.

    By all means, take a look at the Court judgments and let us know of anything interesting in them. It does seem that these judgments so far have paved the way for female employment groups to get paid much more while low paid male workers will not.

    Comment by Man X Norton — Sun 23rd April 2017 @ 5:52 pm

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