With all the excitement around the Rugby World Cup it may have slipped your notice that the long battle by Disability Support workers to be paid minimum wage for “sleepover” shifts looks like it might come to an end by Christmas – if the government gets its act together.
The government, IHC and the unions have reached a compromise deal, which will see the full minimum hourly rate paid for sleepovers by December 2012.
50% of the backpay owed will be paid eight weeks after the government legislates, which will need to happen to enable a variation of the Court’s decision and the very reasonable position taken by the unions of enabling the minimum wage to increase over a period of time.
I’m pleased that after a drawn-out process lasting five years and workers jumping through the hoops and appeals in three Courts, Tony Ryall has finally decided to get the matter settled. I’m also intensely relieved that the government has shelved any idea of amending the Minimum Wage Act to avoid these payments. This would have had an impact on tens of thousands of workers.
The only note of concern is that Minister Ryall is saying legislation won’t be passed before the election. If that happens, there is no trigger for the backpay to be paid and workers will have to wait a lot longer. There’s no reason settlement legislation can’t happen in the next three sitting weeks.
After all, the government managed to ram through significant changes under urgency that removed rights for a whole category of workers so they could please Warner Bros. They can please the nearly 4,000 workers who have made a claim by getting the legislation through the House asap. Labour will co-operate with the government so these workers can be paid.
Well done to Service & Food Workers Union and PSA for hanging in there. You’ve done your members proud.