On the Picket Line

New Zealand workers who care for disabled strike for contract

By Annalucia Vermunt
July 22, 2019

AUCKLAND, New Zealand — More than a dozen IDEA Services workers picketed the South Auckland regional office here June 23, part of a 24-hour nationwide strike against the division of IHC. IDEA (Intellectual Disability Empowerment in Action) Services contracts to work with adults of all ages with intellectual disabilities by providing personal care, household chores, vocational aid and other activities. This is done in more than 600 supervised care homes and in court-ordered compulsory care facilities.

This is the seventh strike taken by some 3,000 members of E tu union since their contract fight began eight months ago. One major issue is premium pay on weekends. “We want the company to recognize that the normal workweek is Monday to Friday, not Monday to Sunday, and that weekend work should be rewarded,” Dawn Kopa, an E tu shop steward who’s worked for the company 17 years, told the Militant.

Other issues are higher pay for senior support workers and the protection of key health and safety rights. They are also resisting IDEA Services bosses’ demands for more flexibility over workers’ schedules.

“For me the central question is respect,” said Virginia Sarich, a shop steward for those working in compulsory care homes.