On the Picket Line

New Zealand home-care workers picket in fight for union contract

By Janet Roth
March 29, 2021

AUCKLAND, New Zealand — Home-care workers and their supporters were on the picket line again March 12 in their ongoing fight for a union contract. “We’re doing this for the next lot of workers coming up, not just for those of us here now,” said union delegate Helen Taufa.

Some 100 E tu union members work for Lifewise services, a division of the Methodist Church, providing care for people who are elderly or disabled. They have been in negotiations with the bosses for over a year and a half, fighting for more guaranteed hours of work and increased sick and bereavement paid leave.

The picket was held outside Auckland Hospital. The E tu union said they are calling on “the Auckland District Health Board to step in and push Lifewise to resolve the situation.” The board is the government agency that gave Lifewise its contract to provide home-care services.

Workers explained that the company wasn’t giving them enough hours of work. One worker said she was “hanging and dangling” each week, on call to see if the company would give her extra shifts. Lifewise guarantees each worker a certain minimum number of weekly hours, “but someone might be available to work 40 hours and she’s only given 10 or 15 guaranteed hours,” said Taufa.