The New Zealand Nurses Organization, Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa (NZNO) welcomes today’s announced increase in the living wage to $23.65. It says all health employers, from DHBs to primary care and Maori and Iwi providers, must step up and set living wages as the minimum for themselves and their contractors.
NZNO Kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku said the health sector, like any other, cannot thrive on the back of low pay rates which often perpetuate poverty.
“Governments have ignored the wage crisis for far too long and have left many whānau in dire straits.
“Many nurses, midwives, health assistants and kaimahi hauora, some of whom are currently earning below living wage, are taking second jobs or leaving their professions because work pressures within the health system health are not worth the mental and physical distress.It is only exacerbated when it is difficult to put food on the table.
Ms Nuku said that to survive on low wages, parents or guardians often have to work while barely keeping their heads above water.
“The slightest change in income or expenses takes months to recover and the mental impact on all family members is significant. It is so much harder for children to have a good start in life, both parents having to work for minimum wage.
“There is no welfare in these types of wages and that is why a living wage that reflects the minimum required to meet basic welfare needs is so important.
“If small health providers say they cannot afford to pay what is needed to live with dignity, then funding models need to be urgently reassessed.”
NZNO has long been a living wage employer and extends this requirement to its contractors.