"Mean" Govt should drop appeal of decision to pay carers minimum wage

The Green Party is calling on the Government to drop its mean-spirited move to appeal a court decision that respite carers should be paid at least the minimum wage.

The Green Party can reveal that Crown lawyers yesterday lodged an application to appeal against an Employment Court decision that respite carers should be paid at least the minimum wage. Currently these workers are paid a daily amount of just $75. The move comes as the minimum wage for other workers is set to rise by 50 cents an hour tomorrow.

“Any reasonable person would agree that $75 is not enough pay for a day’s hard work,” Green Party industrial relations spokesperson Denise Roche said.

“It’s mean spirited in the extreme for the National Government to try to deny these workers even the minimum legal pay rate. This is a classic case of exploitation of workers, most of whom are women.

“The minimum wage is hard enough to live on, yet these respite workers are not even earning half what they’d get on the minimum wage. That the Government’s appeal comes just two days before the minimum wage is due to rise is just a further kick in the teeth to these workers.

“Respite carers provide care for elderly and disabled people while their usual carer is getting a break. Without these workers the family care system would collapse.

“Among the reasons for applying to appeal the case, the Ministry of Health and Capital and Coast Health claim that it would be too expensive to pay all respite carers the minimum wage.

“For years the Government and hospitals have exploited these workers simply because they can. That exploitation must stop. Everyone deserves to be paid a decent wage for a day’s work and the minimum wage is the very least that these workers deserve,” Ms Roche said.