The Living Wage Movement Aotearoa New Zealand singled out the Selwyn Foundation ahead of its annual general meeting this week for allegedly not paying its cleaning, laundry and kitchen staff enough.

Yvette Taylor from Auckland Living Wage said that Selwyn’s values-based and ethical approach to providing services was not reflected in the pay levels of cleaning or kitchen staff.

These workers were not included in the Equal Pay settlement, which saw a significant boost to caregivers’ wages.

“Selwyn like to market themselves as an institution that plays a role in the community and looks after the most vulnerable. Unfortunately that doesn’t extend to the people who they employ and who are having to work two jobs or use benefits to top up their pay,” said Taylor.

However, chief executive of The Selwyn Foundation Garry Smith says they have been lifting the wages of their cleaning, laundry and kitchen staff at a faster rate than that of employees in other categories.

“In the last two years, we’ve awarded increases three times higher than the standard rate awarded to staff in other roles.”

This year, Selwyn is looking to increase rates again, this time by up to 6.4 per cent.

“We’re investing in increasing pay rates as we can afford it,” says Smith.

Smith says Selwyn is committed to doing what it can to provide ways for its employees to take home more money.

“By extending our workplace training opportunities and actively supporting and enabling more staff in a wider range of job areas to work towards gaining qualifications in their particular role, we’re also helping people move through the pay scale.”

Twenty-eight of Selwyn’s cleaning staff have completed New Zealand Certificate in Cleaning Level 2 and the New Zealand Certificate in Laundry Level 2 is also now on offer.

“We have a duty to protect our future viability within the current funding model for aged care for the sake of all our staff, residents and their families, and so we can continue with our founding charitable mission, which is to provide services to older people, especially those who are vulnerable or in need,” says Smith.

The pressure on aged care facilities to increase the wages of their domestic staff has mounted since the Pay Equity settlement, which saw caregivers’ wages rise.

Aged care workers are feeling the effects of this.

“What about domestic staff, like myself who also work in aged care facilities?. We work hard too, for bugger all pay,” commented one aged care worker in a recent INsite article.

Many providers also feel uncomfortable with the disparity in pay. Following the wage increase for caregivers, many are feeling pressured to also increase the pay of their nursing, cleaning, laundry and kitchen staff. However, without an increase in funding, many providers do not have the means to do so.

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