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IDEA workers to strike over pay and 'unsafe staffing levels'

Marie Thomas loves her job and the people she works with.

But on Monday she will walk off her shift alongside more than 40 other employees of IDEA Services in Gisborne because of a breakdown in union talks around the country.

They are seeking higher pay for senior service workers, an increase in weekend pay rates and action on what they say are unsafe staffing levels.

Those scheduled to work between 7am and 11am on Monday morning will gather at Heipipi Endeavour Park (by the courthouse) to highlight their concerns.

Mrs Thomas has worked for IDEA Services for 12 years and is an E tu Union delegate.

IDEA Services is the operational arm of IHC. It provides residential care for the intellectually and physically disabled.

Mrs Thomas and other employees of IDEA Services around New Zealand work with people who are intellectually and physically disabled.

They care for them in their homes but it is not easy.

“I love my job and love the people, and so do my workmates. We just want the organisation to hear us and what we have to say.

“The whole lot of us are burned out. We’re working way beyond our hours and are under-staffed.

'We’re lucky one of us has not been killed'“We get physically and mentally abused by (some of) the people we support. We’re lucky one of us has not been killed.”

Mrs Thomas said the people with intellectual disabilities they looked after did not have the mentality of adults to understand what they were doing was wrong.

“We’re weary, we’re scared and when we go on shift we wonder what will happen.”

Mrs Thomas said they were also fighting for their senior staff workers.

Almost 3000 IDEA Services care workers around New Zealand are part of the E tu Union.

E tu industry co-ordinator Alastair Duncan said mediation for their requests ended in failure after IDEA Services refused a union request to discuss options.

“Not only does IDEA Services want to cut current conditions, it also wants to undermine the job security of the workforce using the mantra of so-called ‘flexibility’.

“Union members are fed up with the way their long-standing concerns have been ignored.

“Support workers go the extra mile for IDEA Services every day but when it comes to staff rights, IDEA shuts down.”