VANGUARD - Expressing the viewpoint of the Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist)
For National Independence and Socialism •


Aged Care Workers Win Higher Wages and Some Respect

Source: United Workers Union, X

On Friday 15 March 2024 the Fair Work Commission handed down its second Decision on wage increases for aged care workers. In 2022 the Commission handed down a Decision increasing nurses and personal care workers and chefs in aged care facilities a 15% wage increase.

The principal unions with membership in the aged care sector (Nurses Union, Health Services Union and United Workers Union) initial case was for a 25% wage increase for all occupations in the aged care sector. 

The second Decision of the Commission handed down on Friday 15 March 2024 increased the wage increase (inclusive of the 15%) to up to 28.5% for nurses and personal care workers and a 6.8% wage increase to support service aged care workers such as cleaners, laundry workers and food preparation workers assisting the chefs.

Although aged care workers did not take industrial action to win increases in pay, they raised their voices in unity exposing to Royal Commissions, politicians and the media the impact that low pay had not just on their own personal lives but on the quality of care of elderly people dependent on aged care. It has been their stories that demanded the Fair Work Commission and the federal government ensure that aged care workers be paid wages that reflect the skill and complexity of the work they perform.

Aged care workers’ wages are paid from money allocated to the aged care employers who own and dominate the aged care sector, both residential and home care.

Many aged care sector employers, even the so-called not for profit operators, have a history of mis-allocating federal government money provided to pay workers.

Sometimes this has been done by outright underpayment (wage theft) of workers and sometimes by "creative rostering" and not replacing staff absent from work. 

With the increase in wages to aged care workers, the temptation to continue bad practices will no doubt continue. 

However, through the workers’ campaign for higher wages and respect for the work they do, they have become more united and organized with thousands joining their appropriate union for the first time. Many are migrant workers who are standing up for their rights and the rights of residents like never before.

The next big battle for the aged care workers and indeed communities is to tackle the question of ownership and control of the sector.

Is it in the interests of aged care residents, workers and communities as a whole that aged care is dominated by private for-profit operators, many of them large overseas owned conglomerates?