Carers at the Wynyard Care Centre went on strike for 30 minutes on Friday in industrial action against what the union called a ‘disrespectful’ employer.
About 45 workers and supporters gathered on the corner of Quiggin and Moore Streets at 2.30pm to listen to speeches and vote on further action.
The carers have been trying to negotiate a new agreement with Sydney-based Synovum Care Group since their last one expired in 2013. They overwhelmingly rejected the company’s January proposal, which the Health and Community Services Union said stripped away significant rights and limited pay rises to 1.5 per cent a year.
“The Wynyard workers are paid less than nearly all other aged care providers in Tasmania and the mainland,” union assistant state secretary Robbie Moore said. “This action is just the beginning. We are in it for the long haul.”
However Synovum Care Group managing director Natasha Chadwick said the union was referring to the rejected January proposal, not the latest one which Synovum had amended to address worker issues.
She said most of the carers were on above award wages and if they accepted the latest proposal, all would be paid above award.
“I’m incredibly disappointed at this action,” she said. “”We’ve been operating the centre for 12 years and this has never happened before.”
She believed the action had arisen because the union had been shut out of negotiations with 16-17 staff working in the small-scale living units next door.
Murchison MLC Ruth Forrest, a former nurse and mid-wife told the crowd she knew how hard they worked at the facility.
“It’s not easy to walk out of a workplace. The decision to take industrial action is never taken lightly,” she said, pledging her support to the workers no matter how long it took.
Mr Moore said, “If we lose the conditions we have now, it will be almost impossible to get them back. We need to expose what Synovum is trying to do and the effect it will have on Wynyard.”
The workers present voted unanimously to continue a community-based campaign indefinitely.
A number of residents showed their support by rolling up in their wheelchairs.
Leah McBey : The Advocate : 21 April 2017