So Human Rights Commissioner Judy McGregor has done the "Undercover Boss" thing, and found out that workers in the Aged Care sector are underpaid; the Herald reports:
John Key says the difference in pay between aged-care workers in the community and those at hospitals is a problem, but fixing it would come at a high cost to the Government.Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Judy McGregor released the Caring Counts report yesterday, saying aged-care workers were paid too little compared with similar jobs in places such as hospitals.The report recommended phasing in pay increases over three years until community-based workers were paid the same as those paid directly by district health boards.It also recommended introducing a "five-star" ranking system to assess the quality of aged-care facilities - a step Ms McGregor said would improve consumer choice and public accountability - and making voluntary safety standards compulsory.The Prime Minister said the issue of pay inequality between workers at privately run facilities and DHB staff was a long-standing problem. However, rectifying it would mean higher subsidies and the Government had limited resources.He said one of the "handbrakes" on the system was that providers were limited in how much they could increase charges.The report followed a year-long inquiry during which Ms McGregor worked undercover in aged-care facilities for a week in January.
Dr McGregor has raised a very valid issue. But we can't help but wonder; why did the previous government not address it, given that the inequality has been in the system for many, many years, not just from November 2008?
We reckon that it's an especially valid question, especially given that the majority of Aged Care workers are represented by the Service and Food Workers' Union, whose former national secretary Darien Fenton became an MP in 2005 at a time when Labour was in power, and the economy was strong.