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Primary Health Workforce Seeing Red Over Pay Gap

1May 2006

May 1 – Seeing Red Day

Primary Health Workforce Are Seeing Red Over Pay Gap

Nurses, community health workers and others in the primary healthcare workforce are Seeing Red today (May 1) over the pay gap between them and their counterparts in public hospitals.

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation members are wearing red in GP surgeries, health clinics, Maori and Iwi providers and accident and medical centres across the country.

The frustrated primary health workforce are sending Red Letters to the Prime Minister asking her to match the government’s stated commitment to primary health with pay rates that value the workforce.

The Seeing Red Day coincides with two days of further negotiations between NZNO and 650 primary health employers in New Zealand’s biggest MECA negotiations. The MECA covers nearly 3000 employees in primary healthcare.

NZNO advocate Chris Wilson said the pay gap would increase to nearly $200 a week by July this year for a practice nurse on the current Practice Nurse MECA compared with a nurse with the same qualifications and experience in a public hospital.

“No wonder our members are Seeing Red,’ she said. “They are working harder than ever supporting the government’s primary health strategy to deliver healthcare to communities and doing a professional job but they are increasingly feeling undervalued.”

Chris Wilson said a survey conducted by NZNO at the end of last year showed a recruitment and retention crisis was looming in primary health as the pay gap grew.

“By Seeing Red and sending a red letter to the PM, our members are asking government to value them and close the gap and enable them to stay in primary health,’ she said.

Chris Wilson said NZNO negotiations with primary health employers were progressing, but it is very clear pay parity depended on government coming up with the additional funding.

The amount required for pay parity has been estimated to be around $22 million.


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