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MECA negotiations and possibility of action

Northern District MECA negotiations and possibility of industrial action

NZNO responds to DHB claims - Northern Districts MECA negotiations

NZNO has responded to accusations that it is "hell bent on strike action" by inviting DHB employers to come back to the negotiating table to revise their last offer.

"Far from being hell bent on strike action we are hell bent on getting a proper agreement" said NZNO advocate Shane Vugler.

"Last time we spoke to the DHBs they said the offer they had made was their best offer and could not be improved through further negotiation."

"It is not nurses who have spat the dummy. Because DHBs have put their offer beyond negotiation our members have no option but to consider industrial action if they are not prepared to accept the offer," said Mr Vugler.

"Under the Employment Relations Act this is the only process available to us."

"Nurses know more than anybody the massive problems that strike action would create for patients and their families. A full nurses' strike will mean hospitals have to be closed for all but absolute emergencies. Our members would never do that without having been pushed to the wall."

Some facts: * This is not the first time the 5 DHBs have played hardball. It took a threat of industrial action last October for DHBs to agree that senior nurses could be part of the Collective Agreement. This was despite government policy in favour of collective bargaining in the public sector.

* Nurses and midwives are underpaid in all parts of the country. NZNO acknowledges that most of the current pay gap (estimated to be between $7,000 and $19,000) can not be closed within existing DHB budgets. However, existing DHB budgets could provide for parity across the country, as DHBs are all funded according to a consistent formula. This is all that is being sought in the Northern negotiations.

* For 60% of nurses at Waikato DHB the employers' offer is at most a 3.6% increase spread over three years. That is below inflation.

* It has taken 12 months of negotiations to get to this point.

* Stop work meetings will complete their consideration of the offer on Saturday 18 May.

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