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Stop Strike Or Deaths A Certainty

Christchurch MPs were told if the proposed 15-day strike goes ahead babies, the acutely ill and frail elderly will die unnecessarily at a briefing held by the Canterbury District Health Board early today.

National MPs Gerry Brownlee and Pansy Wong said they were astounded by the callous disregard for the seriousness of the situation shown by the Government MPs who preferred to keep their heads in the sand and defend this extensive strike.

There is now a clear sequence of proceedings that can occur to prevent the catastrophic events that flow from this major strike action.

1. CTU President, Ross Wilson, riding in like the Government's white knight to force the nurse's union to back down. 2. If that fails the Board could seek an injunction through the Employment Court to prevent the strike, although the vagaries of the Employment Relations Act makes success unlikely. 3. In that case Helen Clark should put this issue at the top of the Cabinet Agenda for Monday and recall Parliament to pass urgent legislation to make it clear that hospitals are essential services and strikes of this nature cannot proceed. "It was ironic to hear at the briefing Government MPs extolling the board to improve communications with nurses over the extent of the settlement offer, without realizing that their own Employment Relations legislation explicitly prevents the CDHB from talking to nurses about these matters unless the union says it is OK," Mr Brownlee said.

"The situation is desperate and ultimately only the Government can stop this strike and prevent the unnecessary deaths of babies, the acutely ill and frail elderly," Pansy Wong said.

"Helen Clark and her Health Minister can no longer simply wash their hands on this matter. They must act," the MPs said.

Ends

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