International Admin Appreciation Day: Can we ask for more than a biscuit?

I don’t want to appear ungrateful. Morning teas are always delightfully received, especially when put on by a thoughtful clinical colleague, paid for out of their own pocket, so that we can feel special today. This post is 𝗻𝗼𝘁 directed at these people: my fellow workmates on the floor, who see and understand the vital role administrators do every day to keep the hospital running.

This post is directed at the higher-ups, who I cannot name or specifically describe because I have never seen them, spoken to them, or heard directly from them. But I know they are there. I know this because the decisions they make filter down to us at the bottom, they have an impact on every part of our work, the conditions, the pay, and even the way we are allowed to talk about these things in the public sphere. The unnamed higher-ups include upper management, the bosses on 6 figure salaries, and the high ranking union officials who I help to employ by way of my fortnightly union dues. If you are reading this, know that we want more than a biscuit for the work we do to keep this health system afloat. And we will not be silenced.

20% of my colleagues have not received a pay increase from July 2019 that they are legally entitled to; they have been incorrectly underpaid for ten months. Our employer – the CCDHB – has provided no explanation on why this is. Every pay cycle they promise the issue will be resolved, and every pay cycle there remain workers who are still not paid properly. This is disrespectful, it’s belittling, and it’s illegal. You may be shocked that an employer could get away with such negligence without it even making the news. Then you will be saddened to know that many of us are not surprised, this is just one more way we are undervalued and overlooked as a female-dominated essential service provider.

We – your healthcare administrators – are often the first point of contact; we are the call centre and reception staff, we schedule appointments, we type and organise patient notes, and much, much more. So why, then, are we always the last to know about changes to processes that we are a key part of? During the Covid-19 pandemic we have been repeatedly on the back foot in terms of information and response plans, never being consulted and usually not finding out changes through official channels, rather through unofficial information sharing on the floor. When we are constantly kept in the dark on decisions that directly affect us and the work we do, it’s no wonder we find hollow displays of “appreciation” condescending.

Lastly, DHB administrators are grossly underpaid, as is reflected in our ongoing equal pay claim. Evidence shows we are paid less than those who in equivalent male-dominated work, as well as other administrators in the public and private sector. This leads to the false assumption by some that our work in the hospital is unimportant, lowly, and something “anybody could do”. On the contrary, many of us hold Bachelor’s degrees or higher, and our jobs require skill, patience, accuracy and emotional intelligence. We deserve, and in fact we demand better.

If you want to show appreciation for the administrators in your life with more than a biscuit then please 𝘀𝗵𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗶𝘀 𝗽𝗼𝘀𝘁. Elevate our voices and stand with us while we fight for improved working conditions, fair pay, and the recognition we deserve

-By Annabel Bennett, Administration Worker and HSWN Member

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