Homecare strike: not so ‘Happy New Year’ for Lifewise homecare workers – E Tu


It’s not a very ‘Happy New Year’ for Lifewise homecare workers, who will go on strike for at least the next three full days unless the Lifewise Trust is prepared to settle a fair collective agreement.


Homecare workers at Lifewise provide care and support to our elders and people with disabilities for the Auckland District Health Board (ADHB). The care workers have been in negotiations with their employer for more than a year and a half.


The workers want to see commitments to deal with their guaranteed hours of work, the lack of which is keeping some of them on the poverty line. They are also calling for improved leave, which their employer previously agreed to and then reneged on.

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“Lifewise does a lot of good work in the community and they say they stand for social justice, but there’s a double standard at Lifewise when their own workforce of homecare workers can’t afford to live decent lives,” says care worker and E tū delegate Helen Taufa.


E tū Director Kirsty McCully says this is an issue of equity for the all-women and largely Pasifika workforce.


“These women cannot live on their incomes, and the inadequate conditions at Lifewise contribute to the disadvantage that these Pasifika women experience,” Kirsty says.


“It’s one example of a much wider problem. The Human Rights Commission has recently launched an inquiry into the pay gap for Pasifika women and E tū has invited the Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Saunoamaali’i Karanina Sumeoto to meet with Lifewise homecare members and hear their experiences.


“It’s a shame to have to call out an organisation which otherwise does good work, but Lifewise, if it truly supports justice for the community, should get its own house in order first and stop contributing to these societal issues of poverty and inequality,” Kirsty says.


“Lifewise is a part of the Methodist church, and as such we feel it should be above disrespecting its homecare workforce in this way.”


Homecare workers will picket at the Lifewise Trust’s CBD offices at 385 Queen Street from 7:15-9:30am on Tuesday 5 January, and their strike action will continue in the following days. They will be joined by members of the Pasifika community, including Cook Island drummers.



  1. Part of the problem is the amount of funding available for home based care.
    The client has an assessment and a certain number of hours of care are allocated for personal care and household management.
    Only the absolute barest minimum number of hours will be allocated. End of.
    Some clipboard carrier has determined that helping Grandpa have a shower, get dressed, have breakfast, take his pills, make his bed, prepare dinner and whip around with the vacuum cleaner will command 10 hours per week tops.
    That’s 1-2 hours per day if no support on weekends.
    (Asking for the number of hours to be increased will likely lead to a ‘recommendation’ that the client should be trundled off to the nearest fossil factory.)
    Because much of this care needs to be done in the mornings…and there are only so many clients a carer can support in a single day without one of them having to wait until lunchtime to get up…a large number of carers are required. These carers often do end up doing a few hours per day. Then a client goes into hospital, or residential care or dies…and their support person has to wait to be re-assigned a new client. Or be given hours that another support worker has come to rely on.

    Such is the nature of home based care, and my advice to those who want guaranteed minimum hours is for them to work in a residential care facility. Leave the home based care to those who are happy with part time work. Or expand and encourage paid family care.

    I agree that more sick leave should be available on a pro-rata basis to all workers, but it would be difficult to increase the number of days of paid bereavement leave.

  2. You should probably go read the “Articles of Religion” that Methodism is based on, then you’ll be able to put aside illusions of “doing good work” and sort the problem on an almost equal playing field. Christianity does not equal “good works”, and the appearance of good works can simply be a coincidence of values that otherwise exist on two different spectrums. Would it suprise you to know they could easily think of their workers as “unprofitable servants” of god?

  3. “Lifewise is a part of the Methodist church, and as such we feel it should be above disrespecting its homecare workforce in this way.” Since when have the “christian” churches ever been about anything but making money and gaining power? This really gets tedious… For the last 1800 years, since the creation of Catholicism, “christianity has been represented by a growing list of power/control structures.. We can also assume that, as they are a church, that they pay no tax on their earnings, which should actually put them in the perfect position to do this kind of work.. But of course, they can’t do that without treating their workforce like serfs… It’s in the scriptures, they say, when challenged… They misinterpret what is a dodgy “holy relic” purely to suit themselves.. And we still act surprised when they keep doing this crap to people… Isn’t it getting a bit old now to pretend they should be better than they are?

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