Statement attributable to Carolyn Smith, Aged Care Director, United Workers Union:
Today’s Aged Care Work Value Case decision recognises aged care workers have been underpaid for performing work that has not been properly valued for decades, if ever.
The Fair Work Commission’s order of pay rises of 15 per cent for direct care workers in aged care – including nurses, AINs, personal care workers and home care workers – is a historic moment, and starts addressing systemic underpayments that have caused a crisis in the sector.
In this decision aged care workers have successfully demonstrated their skills, commitment and hard work are worth much more than they are currently being paid.
We look forward to these long-deserved pay rises being implemented and paid as quickly as possible.
We also see it as vitally important that the Federal Government’s commitment to fund this pay rise extends to paying workers up front rather than being phased in for years.
However aged care workers throughout the country will be gutted to find that there has been no final outcome reached for lifestyle workers or other aged care support workers.
Anyone with knowledge of aged care knows lifestyle, laundry, cleaning and catering are essential to delivering the quality care residents need.
It is a bitter pill for these workers that decisions on their pay rise have been put off for further consideration.
During the two years the case has been on foot, these workers at the heart of the case have been working their guts out keeping aged care running during a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic.
Today’s decision also emphasises the broken bargaining system that confronts aged care workers.
This is a pay correction that addresses years of neglect for those helping to care for Australia’s elderly.
And whatever way you cut it, the neglect continues for those in lifestyle and aged care support services until a hard-fought future decision by the Fair Work Commission.
The bargaining system has completely failed aged care workers and it’s only by taking protracted court action that aged care workers have received some measure of justice.
The only way we can ensure that aged care workers are not once again left behind is to ensure they can participate in a bargaining system that allows real wage rises for workers.
We believe the current wage case outcome demonstrates why we need to implement the current workplace reform package that allows all aged care workers to win the wage rises that accurately reflect the value of their work.