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Auckland DHB Chair's Claim 'Outrageous'

1 March 2006

Auckland DHB Chair's Claim 'Outrageous'

Auckland District Health Board (DHB) chair, Wayne Brown's claim that experienced nurses and doctors may be replaced by less experienced staff is outrageous, discriminatory and shows a lack of understanding of current pay scales, according to NZNO's industrial adviser Glenda Alexander.

At today's Health Select Committee, Brown said the DHB would look to employ younger staff as a consequence of new collective pay agreements. He confirmed the board had budgeted $8 million for redundancies in the 2005/2006 year.

Responding to Brown's claims, Alexander said the national DHB multi-employer collective agreement (MECA) which boosted nurses' pay by an average of 20 percent, was a catch-up pay settlement, as nurses' pay had lagged well behind comparable professions for many years.

"During the MECA negotiations we were assured that the cost of implementing it would not result in job losses and that assurance was written into the final agreement," she said. "Is Mr Brown now reneging on that?"

Alexander, who was the bargaining co-ordinator during the MECA negotiations in 2004, said Mr Brown's comments amounted to discrimination on the basis of age and also revealed ignorance about current nursing shortages and pay scales.

"At a time of critical nursing shortages and a Committee of Inquiry into staffing shortages, we'd like to know where he is going to find all these new, young nurses. It is very, very difficult to recruit new nursing staff, as all DHBs know. It would be far more cost effective to retain the loyal and experienced nursing staff Auckland DHB already has."

Alexander explained that once a nurse had worked in the DHB sector for five years, she reached the top of the ordinary pay scale. "So would Mr Brown consider a nurse who graduated at 21 too old or too experienced at 26?"

"Nurses, have subsidised the health system through their low wages for far too long. It is reprehensible of Mr Brown to threaten the most experienced in the profession in this way. All nurses, regardless of age and experience, have a right to a fair and just wage for the work they do."


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