The New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services has spoken out on the urgency of fair and equal pay between Government and non-governmental social workers.
NZCCSS welcomed the news on 25 September that Oranga Tamariki social workers had reached agreement on a pay equity settlement.
“Recognition of the value of social work in supporting family, whānau and community wellbeing is long overdue.” said Trevor McGlinchey, NZCCSS Executive Officer.
“However, it is critical that pay rates for NGO social workers are not left behind,” he added.
NZCCSS reports that the NGO sector currently employs 28% of registered social workers, compared with 20% in Oranga Tamariki, but both operate within the same employment market and in many cases work with the same clients.
NZCCSS forecasts that an increase in pay for Oranga Tamariki social workers will impair the ability of the NGO sector to recruit and retain social workers.
Many NGO services have received no funding increases for 10 years, which amounts to significantly reduced funding over that period, while the volume and complexity of clients’ needs have increased, say NZCCSS researchers.
NZCCSS reports that Christian social service agencies already face obstacles to finding and retaining experienced social workers when there are Government versus non-governmental pay gaps of 20%.
“This problem is set to intensify if equity between NGO social workers and Oranga Tamariki social workers is not addressed” said Trevor McGlinchey today.
NZCCSS and its social service sector partners have consistently raised the problem of the long-term underfunding of NGO social services with government and officials, and it now hopes the Government’s next round of assessments will raise this issue to the top of the agenda.