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Kevin Campbell speaks with striking nurses

Media release from the Alliance Party

Alliance MP, Kevin Campbell speaks with striking nurses

Immediate Release 3 December 2001

Alliance MP, Kevin Campbell, speaks with striking nurses in Christchurch today at their midday rally in Cathedral square.

"Nurses are some of the most trusted professionals in our society and they do not take strike action lightly. In speaking with nurses today I have been well aware of their reluctance to take this action, but also of their desperation to improve working conditions.

"The new Employment Relations Act has given them the right to strike and returned some balance to employment relations in New Zealand. While they feel very concerned about having to leave their patients, I acknowledge that their aim is to improve patient care as well as their own employment conditions.

"The health sector was run down and underfunded by previous governments. Unfortunately, it is going to take some time to fix. The Alliance policy is to raise taxes for those who can afford to pay, so we can properly fund our health and education systems.

"The Alliance has consistently promoted increased funding for health care and hospitals in particular. It was our policy in both the 1996 and 1999 elections. This would be paid for by fair progressive taxation.

"A woman, Ms Murphy, commented in the Christchurch Press this morning that even though her child is waiting for an operation, she understood the nurses concerns and would be willing to pay a little more in tax to improve conditions in our hospitals. The Alliance believes many people would pay more for a better health system.

"I am also concerned about pay equity issues for nurses. Nurses are underpaid compared to male dominated professions that have similar skills and stresses. The National Government repealed pay equity legislation in 1991. The Alliance's Hon Laila Harre, as Minister of Women's Affairs, has made pay equity a top priority again.

"Health care and pay equity issues are both key issues for the Alliance and I will be raising the nurses concerns back in Parliament," said Kevin Campbell.

Contact Kevin Campbell for further comment: ph 025 270 9033

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