The New Zealand Nurses Organisation, Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa (NZNO) welcomes today’s announced Living Wage increase to $23.65. It says all health employers, from DHBs through to primary care and Māori and iwi providers, must step up and set the Living Wage as the minimum for themselves and their contractors.
NZNO Kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku said the health sector, like any other, cannot prosper on the back of poor pay rates that often perpetuate poverty.
“Governments have ignored the wage crisis for far too long and driven many whānau into hardship.
“A lot of nurses, midwives, health care assistants and kaimahi hauora, some currently earning below the Living Wage, are taking second jobs or leaving their profession because the pressures of working within the health system are not worth the mental and physical distress. This is only exacerbated when it’s hard to put food on the table.”
Ms Nuku said that to survive on low wages both parents or caregivers often need to work yet still barely keep their head above water.
“The slightest change to income or expenses takes months to recover from and the mental impact on everyone in the family is significant. It’s so much harder for children to have a decent start in life with both parents having to work for the minimum wage.
“There is no wellbeing in these types of wages and that is why an accurate Living Wage that reflects the minimum required to meet basic wellbeing needs is so important.
“If smaller health providers say they cannot afford to pay what is needed to live with dignity, then funding models must be urgently reassessed.”
NZNO has long been a Living Wage employer and extends that requirement to its contractors.