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More GP strikes likely in the new year

20 December, 2018

Efforts to avert a full-day Christmas Eve strike have failed, and further strikes are now likely, after Te Rūnanga o Toa Rangatira again refused to engage with the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS).

Twenty-one GPs at Ora Toa Health practices in Wellington are taking part in rolling strike action to support their dentist colleagues, who are excluded from the collective agreement.

ASMS Senior Industrial Officer Lloyd Woods expresses his apologies to patients affected by Monday’s strike at the Cannons Creek, Mungavin, Porirua, Takapuwahia and Poneke practices.

He says he has negotiated in many workplaces over the years but has never encountered a similar attitude from an employer. He made the comment after attending last-ditch talks with the employer yesterday (Wednesday) in an effort to avert the strike. He described the attitude of Te Rūnanga o Toa Rangatira (Ora Toa Health) as “strange and inexplicable”.

GPs were prepared to accept a lower pay increase in return for their two dentist colleagues being covered by the collective, but this was refused.

“This meant that the savings through proposing a lesser salary increase for GPs would fully fund any costs to Ora Toa as a result of the coverage of the dentists and, in fact, probably create savings. In effect the GPs would be paying for their colleagues to be included as part of their medical team. We were very surprised and disappointed when this was refused,” Mr Woods says.

It means the full-day strike will go ahead on Christmas Eve, and further strike action is now highly likely.

“We then went even further with a hypothetical proposal that would see the dispute finished without direct dentist coverage but with them covered at an unknown later date. We were more than surprised when this too was turned down quite forcefully,” he says.

Mr Woods says other employers would jump at the opportunity to offer a lower pay increase.

ENDS

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