Retirement village operator gives care workers perks in bid to make job more attractive, keep staff

A major retirement village operator, Summerset, is giving its workers a raft of perks and benefits, hoping to make the job more attractive and help it keep staff.

Care workers' pay rose in July thanks to the Government's $2 billion pay equity settlement for them.

But now Summerset has gone a step further. 

"What we're doing here is actually showing our staff how important they are, that we value them and that we care for them," said Julian Cook, Summerset chief executive.

Staff benefits Summerset is giving include health insurance for GP, dentist, physio and optometrist appointments. 

Ten-thousand dollars worth of funeral cover for themselves and their spouse will be provided, as will up $780 worth of shares in the company per year.

And after five years working, staff will also get surgery cover and an extra week's annual leave.

The union representing care workers, E tu, says it's supportive of anything employers do to improve workers conditions, but wants to see companies increase salaries of all caregiver employees, and put more into workers' pockets.

"We are very pleased for Summerset because they seem to be one of the employers who're advantaged, and we want them to share the goodies," said John Ryall of E tu. 

Summerset is hoping its new staff benefits will make caregiving more attractive. Source: 1 NEWS



Parents perplexed to find Kiwi kids are drinking foreign water at school

There's been backlash against the sale of foreign bottled water in New Zealand schools.

The Cool Sips brand of mineral water is found in many tuck shops around the country. It's sold by a Nelson company but many parents are questioning why the company sources its water from Malaysia.

One Wellington school has stopped selling water and drinks in its tuck shop after students discovered Cool Sips water wasn't sourced from New Zealand.

Maidstone Intermediate School pupil Brooke Toma told 1 NEWS she "wouldn’t feel very good about drinking water that's not from New Zealand because now I know that it's not fresh and it's been imported and it's taken a long time to get here".

Cool Sips mineral water has been sold in schools across New Zealand for around 15 years. On the back of the bottle, the label states "product of Malaysia".

The company that imports it, Tasman Bay Food Group, says they wanted to offer schools an affordable choice.

Executive Director Martyn Barlow explained: "It was going to cost us about three times as much as what we could import water for. Bare in mind, that was 15 years ago and the water market has changed a lot since then".

In Nelson, a number of schools and parents were perplexed to find the water distributed to schools was imported.

"If it's being sold here I'd assume it's New Zealand" one mother told 1 NEWS. "I wouldn't buy it ever if I knew it'd come from there (Malaysia)".

But Mr Barlow says he struggles to understand why parents would feel uncomfortable about allowing their children to drink foreign water.

"The company we buy the water from is a reputable Malaysian company, who produces to international standards. We actually test the water ourselves. We've never had a problem or complaint with it".

As of next year, Cool Sips mineral water will be sourced from a supplier in the South Island.

The Coolsips brand of mineral water is found in many tuck shops around the country. Source: 1 NEWS

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Auckland in the grips of mumps outbreak with sixteen years' worth of cases in nine months

Auckland is in the midst of a full blown outbreak of the mumps, with more than 450 cases confirmed so far this year and the number rising daily.

The huge amount of cases means Auckland's had more than 16-years-worth of cases in just nine months.

"This is definitely a massive increase and can really only be described as a full blown outbreak that shows no sign of abating at the moment," Dr Julie Peters Clinical Director of Auckland Regional Public Health Service said.

The statistics are troubling, showing of the confirmed cases, 80 per cent aren't fully immunised, 60 per cent are aged 10 to 24 and 50 per cent are Pasifika.

"The outbreak started in west Auckland probably as a result of someone coming in to NZ who had been infected overseas.

"Now its spread across the region 40 per cent of the cases are in west and 40% are in south Auckland," Dr Peters told 1 NEWS.

With half the cases affecting Auckland's Pacific community, Dr Nikki Turner of the Immunisation Advisory Centre says many in the community won't have been vaccinated.

"Many people who were born in Pacific countries may have missed out on mumps vaccines. Some of the traditional ones didn't actually have mumps combined with measles," Dr Turner said.

Schools with confirmed cases of mumps are asking students who aren't fully vaccinated to stay home for almost four weeks

Health officials say everyone under 36 needs to make sure they're immunised which you can do for free with your GP.

More than 450 cases of the highly infectious disease have been confirmed so far this year. Source: 1 NEWS