My name is Dilani Perera. I am an NZNO delegate and a caregiver at a resthome in Wellington. I have been following Kristine Bartlett’s equal pay case with interest.
When I heard yesterday about the Equal Pay case decision I couldn’t say anything for a moment. It took a while to sink in. It is such a wonderful decision and I will celebrate with my family at home and my other family at work. This decision means a lot to me and to every woman who works as a caregiver in aged care.
My life has not been easy but I love my job. Most days I get up before dawn to go to work and care for my old people at work. They are my second family. I look after them and care for them the way I would want my mother to be looked after.
I feel it is a privilege and a joy to care for our elders even though it is tiring and hard work. I’m always tired when I get home and I often feel bad that my family misses out.
Yesterday the Court of Appeal has told me that this country cares about me and the work I do and that the money I get is not enough.
I have worked here for 10 years and I have passed all the qualifications and still only get one dollar more than the minimum wage.
I am a solo mother and I have brought up my three children myself, and I never have enough for them. Our house is always cold. When my children ask me for something I have to think whether it is possible this week, or next week.
If I had equal pay I would have a better home and better food and better clothes. Better everything!
I would also spend more time with my family. It took me seven years to save enough money to visit my mother back home. If I had equal pay I could visit more.
Lots of my friends at work have two jobs and are so, so tired. I want them to be happy and well and enjoying their families.
I thank my sister Kristine Bartlett and my union for giving me a better life ahead. On behalf of all caregivers and their families too, thank you.
Thank you also to the Court of Appeal who finally made me feel like the work I do is valued.
This is a short clip we filmed late last year about equal pay.