Over 90 percent of PSA and SFWU union members have rejected an offer from government to settle their long-running sleepover case.
The unions started legal action in 2007 to seek the minimum wage for sleepovers. The sleepover cases are also seeking six years of backpay for thousands of union members who have worked sleepovers throughout New Zealand. This case could also have implications for TEU members who participate in noho marae as part of their employment.
Both unions have been meeting with their respective members throughout the country over the past month to consider and vote on the offer, in the lead up to the case being heard in the Supreme Court on 13 September. The meetings decided that the government offer is not good enough.
“It’s time to value the work disability support workers do by paying them the minimum wage for sleepovers and it’s time for the Government to get back to the negotiating table,” said SFWU National Secretary John Ryall.
“This issue isn’t a surprise for the Government. Both the SFWU and the PSA have consistently raised the chronic underfunding issue of the disability sector. If the Government can afford over $4 billion in tax cuts that mostly benefit the better off, tens of millions of dollars in loans to a private media company and over a billion dollars to bail out a risky finance company, it can afford to pay workers properly”. Both the Employment Court and the Court of Appeal ruled that sleepover shifts are work and should be paid at least the legal minimum wage.