May 26, 2022

Pay rise for aged care workers should be Labor’s “first priority” unions say

Labor aged care pay rise

The new government should make a submission to the Fair Work Commission (FWC) in support of higher aged care wages, Health Services Union (HSU) national president Gerard Hayes has told The Sydney Morning Herald.

Making a submission to the work value case, which calls for a 25% increase in aged care wages, must be Labor’s “first priority”, Hayes declared.

Federal Treasurer Jim Chalmers has committed to making a submission to support an increase in the minimum wage, but has yet to comment on a submission for higher aged care wages.

But Chalmers has warned the budget position is “dire”. Many Australians will face financial hardship amid rising interest rates, climbing inflation and stagnant wages growth, he cautioned.

Workforce shortage

The aged care sector is struggling to attract and retain enough aged care workers, leading to severe staff shortages. Border closures due to the pandemic have exacerbated the problem. 

Recent figures show that one quarter of all aged care shifts are going unfilled

Earlier this year, defence forces were called in to help struggling aged care homes. 

As many as 75% of aged care workers say they are planning to leave the sector, indicating the situation may worsen.

Aged care workers are paid as little as $22 per hour, meaning many are forced to take on a second or third job to make ends meet.

“I would be seeing pens put to paper as we speak,” said Hayes, according to The Sydney Morning Herald

“This is not a matter of ‘hurry up and wait’. 

“Time is of the essence to be able to put in that submission to be able to give effect to the government’s position to fully support the outcome of the case.”

The FWC has been in hearings into the unions’ case to increase wages by 25%, the equivalent of about $5 an hour. Hearings are expected to begin again in July. 

The Sydney Morning Herald is reporting that a spokesperson for acting prime minister Richard Marles said Labor is “determined to change aged care in this country for the better”.

“This will be a key priority of this government and key priority of the responsible minister, especially given the years of neglect,” the spokesperson said.

United Workers Union aged care director Carolyn Smith, who led aged care workers in strikes earlier this month over poor pay and conditions, agreed the submission must be prioritised, The Sydney Morning Herald has reported. 

She suggested the government should make the submission in time for it to be examined during hearings later this year.

Aged care operators are calling for migration incentives to attract aged care workers to Australia.

However, Hayes said though migration will be a factor in boosting the aged care workforce, he cautioned against creating a situation in which workers could be exploited, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

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  1. Who is going to foot the bill for any pay rise? Need to have the elephant in the room conversation about user pays….

  2. What is the point of an economy if we do not look after the care workers who look after our Elders.? There are huge savings to be made by not filling the coffers of billionaires with our taxes. Redirect these to the aged care workforce.

  3. We all become exploited when the majority of workers are foureign as they come over on visas and are desperately trying their upmost to become residents and citizens and who can blame them?Nepalese are great especially the women. Just love them.However there seems to be a culture in the Aged Care sector business that these foureign students don’t need a better pay. Is this a racist attitude in the sector? All to save money? They are young mostly women and most are working so hard so short staffed and then having hardly any sleep to educate themselves to become Registered Nurses exhausted with no family here and having to send some of their small wage overseas to family on top of living expenses and public transport to get to work as alot don’t and cannot afford driving lessons. They have other jobs like the few Aussies in this sector that work in the industry do to make ends meat. Adding more exhaustion to their lives. Yes. We need a fair wage increase to attract maybe even Australians to the industry. So unless the business of Aged Care see our work as valuable and want a competitive workplace then it should give us all incentive to stay for years. With 3 shifts we are only asking for 1 more set of hands and feet on each shift to give better care to these gorgeous people that rely on us all day 24/7 And to have longer shifts not short shifts as this is where alot of the issues come from. They have to work somewhere else and will call in sick if the other job pays more, leaving us short staffed again! Then when new staff see how much pressure there is with little break time they just leave never to be seen again. I don’t believe they need more males as I have witnessed how lazy the young men are as there is still this attitude that the ‘girls can do that’ a culture from all nationalities on the planet! All we are asking for is 3 more permanent staff for each shift and longer hours. Notn3 hrs here and 5 hrs there. And they should hire people who only want to be AINs due to the fact the students studying are often hardly there due to tiredness ,overworked then they call in sick. Unreliable at best. Better pay rate would encourage people to want to stay long term as well. $28 an hour would be the right rate of pay!

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