Pay equity deal extended to all community social workers

Source: 1News

Thousands of government-contracted community social workers are set to receive a pay rise, bringing them in line with social workers at Oranga Tamariki.

The move is being welcomed by those in the sector, who say for years the profession, dominated by women, has been undervalued.

Currently, community social workers are paid around $28 per hour, less than New Zealand's median wage.

"We are working with vulnerable families," Dunedin-based community social worker Stephanie Brown says.

"We are working to help keep children safe. I don't think it gets much more important than that."

According to Pania Tulia, a community social worker also based in Dunedin, women often fill the sector because they care.

"I think we get taken advantage of and we have when it comes to employment. It means a lot because women have been undervalued for so long," Tulia says.

The announcement was made in Parliament by the Minister for Women, Jan Tinetti, and will impact around 4600 social workers.

"This settlement will make a material difference for social workers, mostly women, who do the hard mahi every day," Tinetti says.

"As we all know, when we value the work women do properly, the benefits are far-reaching and long-term."

The announcement is the second part of a deal that last month saw 500 social workers employed by iwi and NGOs also receive a pay rise.

The case was launched by the Public Service Association in 2019, after it successfully won a similar pay settlement for Oranga Tamariki the year before.

The Oranga Tamariki settlement resulted in many community social workers going to the Government agency because the wages were higher.

The deal cost the Government more than $114 million.

It is unclear how much this settlement will be, or how long it will take to implement.

"Now we need to see the money actually end up with employers so they can pass it on to their social workers," SSPA's chief executive Claire Achmad says.

"We need our community-based social service employers to engage in this process so they can receive this pay equity settlement as quickly as possible."