Public hospital service workers, including cleaners, are set to receive pay rises of up to 40 per over the next three years following a new multi-employer agreement.
The multi-employer agreement (MECA) finalised by trade union E tū sets the conditions for about 3500 service workers, including cleaners, laundry workers, orderlies, catering and security staff at the country’s 20 district health boards.
E tū also announced as part of the deal workers will have access to formal training and be able to gain qualifications which will advance their careers in the public health sector.
By the end of the MECA term, new workers on the basic scale will start on $20.90 an hour – an increase of 26.7 per cent on the start rates.
E tū hopes to see all members earn a Level 3 qualification which will mean a pay rise from $17.28 to almost $25.00 by 2021 – an increase of 40.9 per cent.
At the top of the basic grade, wages will lift to $21.25 an hour from June this year – an immediate increase of nearly 10 per cent. This will increase to at least $25.63 over the next three years – which is 30 per cent more than those on the top step of the basic grade earn now.
Sam Jones, E tū’s national hospitals coordinator said the MECA is a fantastic outcome for members who have struggled with costs rising faster than their low wages.
“It’s a major investment by the DHBs and the government in the lowest paid workers in our public hospitals and helps deliver on the government’s promise to lift the living standard of those at the bottom,” said Jones.
Auckland DHB cleaner, Lena Hiku said everyone is looking forward to the new pay deal.
“We will get a good wage in 40 hours without having to work overtime on the weekend. This will be good for our family life and for our health,” said Hiku.
The union said its confident about finalising the same settlement with the major DHB contractors by the end of the year.
The agreement has also been welcomed by senior doctors and the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS).
“These employees contribute to the smooth running of our hospitals, ensuring they are clean, safe places for patients,” Ian Powell, ASMS executive director said.
“Our public hospitals are not just about doctors and nurses, and ASMS members will be pleased that the important work that hospital service workers do is being recognised. Cleaners, for example, are critical to reducing the risk of infection in operating theatres.”