The decision to pay home care workers for the time they spend travelling to clients is a great first step that should be followed by pay equity and a significant rise in their base pay, the Green Party said today.
Unions representing care workers reached an agreement today with the Government and home support providers that will see workers paid for the hours they spend travelling between clients.
"This decision was long overdue. The Human Rights Commission concluded more than two years ago that travel time between clients constituted work under the Minimum Wage Act," Green Party industrial relations spokesperson Denise Roche said.
"These workers have been short-changed for too long.
"The next major step for these workers should be a rise in the minimum wage, as promised by the Green Party, and a commitment to pay equity. A change of government is the best chance of making these changes happen.
"Home care workers provide a vital service and the Green Party congratulates the Public Service Association and Service and Food Workers Union for fighting for their members' right to be paid for the work they do.
"The Green Party has promised to pay government sector workers the living wage. In Government we'll also increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour immediately followed by increases each year till the minimum wage reaches $18 an hour by 2017.
"Home care workers have been exploited by low wages and bad conditions for too long. Employers have got away with this because these workers are so strongly committed to their clients," said Ms Roche.
The agreement reached today also saw a commitment to move towards better security of hours, a permanent workforce and better training and professional development.
"These are also great initial steps. This means those receiving care get a better deal too.
"The Green Party is committed to providing better pay and conditions to ensure these valuable workers are properly rewarded for their hard work, compassion and skills," Ms Roche said.