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June 6, 2017 | by  | in Token Cripple |
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Token Cripple

Negotiations between E tū Union and the government have brought about a significant change for workers in the care sector. Effective from July 1, care and support staff will receive a pay increase of $3–7 per hour.

This is huge in acknowledging the importance of an historically unvalued profession, work which, to people like me, is critical to our daily lives. In brief, my theory is that the value of work is relative to how “clean” the work is. I mean this literally. In support work, particularly personal care, you are often confronted by other people’s dirt, waste, bodies, and bodily fluid. Of course it is also undervalued for being “woman’s work”; traditionally care was the preserve of the feminine/female.

As RNZ reported, the exact increase will “depend on the work.” It will also depend on how qualified and experienced workers are, the pay graded accordingly.

This has me thinking: what/who gets to count as qualified? Hiring my own staff for the last year has shown me I want to work with people who can engage with me as a person. In my interactions with staff, what technical knowledge they have is almost immaterial.

The success of my support depends on the success of the working relationship: am I comfortable with them in my home? Are they a friendly presence first thing in the morning? Are they reliable? Can they fit easily into a routine involving flatmates and pet cat, pet quails? A selection of questions I might ask myself about a potential employee. But rapport like this is not so easily measured. I am fairly self-determined about who I have do this work for me but not all people are.and the experience of people using support should be central to any conversation about the value of this work.

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