Ancillary workers ‘left in limbo’

Staff who have missed out on the workers’ pay rise are feeling “neglected and unappreciated”, says an aged care chief.

Staff who missed out on the workers’ pay rise are feeling “neglected and unappreciated”, says an aged care chief.

As a result of a decision by the Fair Work Commission last November, from 1 July direct care workers and some non-direct care workers – such as head chefs and recreational activities officers – received a 15 per cent increase on their award wage.

However, around 50,000 other members of the aged care workforce – including people in catering and cleaning, maintenance teams, administration officers and laundry assistants – have so far received nothing.

Chris Mamarelis

Speaking to Australian Ageing Agenda, Chris Mamarelis – chief executive officer of New South Wales and Queensland operator Whiddon – said: “As a regional care provider, Whiddon has witnessed the frustration and feelings of being undervalued expressed by our team members in non-direct care roles. The delay in addressing their wages has left them in a state of uncertainty, feeling neglected and unappreciated.”

Around 600 team members – or 26 per cent of Whiddon’s workforce – have been excluded from the FWC pay deal, said Mr Mamarelis.

When visiting them, he has heard them say “again and again how undervalued this makes them feel.”

Even residents have spoken up, said Mr Mamarelis. “A 102-year-old resident told me that it’s shameful that the workers have had to wait so long.”

Those workers waiting for a raise, he added, “are all wondering why they have been left in limbo and how long it will take for a resolution.”

The FWC’s aged care work value case stretches over three stages. Stages one and two have been completed. AAA contacted the FWC for a stage three timeframe and was told updates on its progress will be published on the commission’s website.

“By excluding certain roles in care and delaying clarity around wage increases for ancillary care roles, the government is sending a message those not in direct care roles are not valued for their work,” said Mr Mamarelis.

“I have been working in the sector for 15 years and I have seen the value of their work and positive impact on the lives of many firsthand,” he added. “This exclusion fails to celebrate and fairly renumerate care work, going against the grain of incentivising and driving people into the aged care workforce.”

“I just want to cry at the unfairness.”

In an attempt to highlight to the FWC and others the hurt and pain team members are feeling in the absence of a decision, Mr Mamarelis posted the following email from one of his employees on LinkedIn:

“I work in admin and we do the job of everyone here. We are the general admin, we are the sales team, we are the rostering team, we are the payroll team, and everything else.

“I feel so undervalued as a staff member and I know with my qualifications I could get a much higher-paying job, but I love my job here and I just want to cry at the unfairness when every department except us is getting a raise.

“I also know that every other admin person at Whiddon is going to feel the same and, at a time when staff are hard to get in this industry, it’s got to make you wonder.

“I love the Whiddon values and know that you won’t mind me telling you how I feel, after all, this is how we operate – we look after each other. However, in this instance, I feel trodden on.”

Mr Mamarelis told AAA that, whilst the initial wage increase is “a step in the right direction,” the pay rise must be applied across the board ensuring all aged care workers are included.

“To continue to provide the level of care that our senior Australians deserve, we passionately believe that every worker is entitled to be paid for the incredible work they do – irrespective of how directly they are involved in care on paper.”   

Comment on the story below. Follow Australian Ageing Agenda on FacebookX (Twitter) and LinkedIn, sign up to our twice-weekly newsletter and subscribe to AAA magazine for the complete aged care picture.  

Tags: chris mamarelis, fair work commission, featured, pay rise, whiddon,

2 thoughts on “Ancillary workers ‘left in limbo’

  1. It rely defies all logic, having lost so many staff to burnout over the covid period to not get this modest pay increase is just going to exacerbate the problem of getting adequate care to patients & stem the loss of staff to less exhausting/demanding professions.

  2. Agree that other roles in aged care miss out on being recognised. During Covid lock downs catering & cleaners continued to work and received no Covid bonus as did care workers. It makes you question whether to look for other employment where you would be valued. Now to ignore auxiliary workers miss out again! Those that receive would prefer the rise be shared with their co workers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *