Hard-working aged care support workers are part of the team that helps residents live better lives, yet they are not receiving equal treatment by the Fair Work Commission to receive the 15% pay rise other care staff have received.
Upset aged care support workers in catering, cleaning, laundry and maintenance have argued they have been unfairly left behind in the wage case, and their work is crucial to the successful operation of aged care facilities across the country.
One of these workers is 25-year-old laundry assistant, Mitch. Mitch has worked in the aged care industry for almost half a decade, starting in the kitchen before experiencing the joy of interacting with residents as a cleaner and then as a laundry assistant.
As someone who missed out on the first pay rise back in July, Mitch believes aged care work is a team effort so it was “a kick in the guts” for direct care workers to receive a raise while support workers continue to battle the cost of living without one.
“Without the kitchen, you don’t have food. Without cleaners, you don’t have a clean environment for residents. Without laundry, they don’t have clean clothes and without maintenance, you don’t have a safe or maintained facility. You need those jobs done every day, all year round [for] people to be able to keep business rolling.”
Mai*, another support worker, works in the hospitality area of her facility and detailed the moment she was able to improve a resident’s engagement with meal time as he lost his appetite and interest in eating.
Workers like Mitch and Mai will share their stories as part of United Workers Union’s submission to the Fair Work Commission as the work value case considers calls for a pay rise for aged care support workers, due to close Friday, September 15.
Consideration of a wage rise for aged care support workers in the Fair Work Commission (FWC) work value case was delayed by FWC to “stage 3” hearings, with submissions due in September.
United Workers Union Aged Care Director Carolyn Smith said that everyone in aged care knows support workers are essential to the team that gives quality care to aged care residents.
She said, “Catering, laundry, cleaning and maintenance workers give aged care residents simple acts of kindness that brighten a day – a cup of tea, a guiding hand, a smile in the morning.”
“It’s not fair that aged care support workers have been left behind when they work so hard to provide the essential services needed by aged care residents.”
*Name changed to protect identity.