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Fair Pay At Last For Public Hospital Nursing Staff

30 June 2006

Fair Pay At Last For Public Hospital Nursing Staff

The final and largest installment of the “Fair Pay” settlement won by members of the New Zealand Nurses Organisation in March 2005 becomes a reality tomorrow.

July 1 is “Fair Pay” day for thousands of nurses, midwives and health care assistants employed by district health boards in public hospitals.

Most NZNO members in DHBs will receive an 8% increase on July 1, and most will have received a pay increase of over 20% since ratification of the NZNO/DHB MECA in March 2005.

“Correcting the historical underpayment of nurses, midwives and health assistants in DHBs is a great achievement and shows the power of NZNO members’ collective action,” said NZNO Industrial Advisor Glenda Alexander.

“The settlement moves new graduate nurses from the unacceptably low annual salary of around $30,000 to a salary of $40,000, in line with similar professions in the state sector. The top rate is now $54,000, with additional payments for professional development,” she said.

“Having won “Fair Pay”, when NZNO members return to negotiations with DHBs at the end of 2006, they will be adamant that parity is maintained, and there will be no sliding back.”

Glenda Alexander said NZNO’s over 20,000 members in DHBs would seek “Fair Play” in the next negotiating round. “Although our members won “Fair Pay”, they have yet to win other conditions which make up fair remuneration, such as inclusion in the state sector superannuation scheme and fair levels of annual leave," she said.

NZNO Organising Services Manager, Cee Payne-Harker, said although the Fair Pay Day was cause to celebrate, it highlighted the huge pay gap between nursing staff in DHBs and their counterparts outside of public hospitals.

“The Fair Pay settlement set fair rates for all nurses, midwives and health care assistants. This last installment puts immense pressure on employers in aged care, primary health and organisations such as hospice, who will struggle to retain staff on significantly lower pay,” she said.

Cee Payne-Harker said the settlement also put pressure on Government, as each of those sectors depended on Government funding.

“Government must ensure that funding is targeted, so that all nursing staff are properly paid, as that is key to New Zealanders receiving quality care, not only in public hospitals but throughout the health sector.”

From tomorrow nurses in primary health will earn nearly $200 a week less than their counterparts in DHBs and the aged care workforce will be as much as 50% behind.

ENDS

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