“You’re better off working at Aldi”: Royal Commission hears of aged care workers’ pay plight

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The Royal Commission into Aged Care has heard that nurses and aged care workers are being forced to stay on higher casual rates, work 52 weeks a year, and seek second jobs just to earn a living wage.

Paul Gilbert from the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (Victorian Branch) spoke of the incredibly low pay that many of his members received for their caring work, which led to high turnover and de-skilling within the sector”.

“The comment I hear when I go and have meetings [with members] is, ‘I could get paid more working on the checkout at Aldi,’” Mr Gilbert said.

It’s a sentiment shared by NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association General Secretary, Brett Holmes, who indicated that “[i]t was pretty sad that a trolley collector gets paid more than an assistant in nursing” in the aged care sector.

Evidence presented to the commission showed that, while nurses and aged care workers sought greater stability in regards to shifts, most did not know how many shifts they were to expect on a week-to-week basis. He also noted that many workers seeking full time employment in the sector could not find it, despite clear evidence of understaffing.

“People are working multiple jobs to earn a [liveable] income,” Mr Gilbert commented.

The Royal Commission will continue to hear evidence from witnesses in regards to a broad range of issues relating to the sector, including understaffing, funding and resourcing.

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