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DHBs: Let Midwives Decide

District Health Boards are dumbfounded midwives won’t get a chance to vote on their latest pay, conditions and staffing offer before going on strike.

The midwives union MERAS (Midwifery Employee Representation & Advisory Service) has issued notices for an 8-hour strike by midwives at DHBs around the country in the second week of August.

Spokesperson Dale Oliff says DHBs put a significant offer to MERAS so they could consider it before the strike, but the union has refused to put it to a members’ vote.

“In addition to the significant investment in salaries, we’ve committed to invest in professional development and ways of working to help attract and retain midwives in the health system.

“Our offer provides full-time MERAS midwives with a salary increase of $5,800 in the first year following ratification, plus $6,000 immediately – that’s a very good offer in these economic circumstances, and members should be given a chance to vote on it before going on strike.

“The strike action is premature when we have presented a comprehensive offer that deserves to be considered.

“This is a time when we need to work together to address the workforce challenges facing the sector especially when COVID and immigration restrictions are putting pressure on everyone.

“DHBs respect the important role of midwives and believe the package of workforce measures and pay could prevent the action if members had a chance to consider it.

“We don’t think that’s unreasonable when you’re talking about considerable disruption to services for expectant mothers and babies,” says Ms Oliff.

DHBs and MERAS are also working together to progress a pay equity claim by midwives and Ms Oliff says the settlement will be backdated to 31 December 2019.

Details of the offer are below
Note: MERAS represents approximately 1,700 public hospital and community midwives – about 85% per cent of the total DHB-employed midwifery workforce. The negotiations with MERAS are separate to the current negotiations with the approx. 300 hospital and community midwives who are members of the NZNO.

DHBs’ offer MERAS Claim
$5,800 increase on all base rates including a component paid in advance of the pay equity settlement.
Equates to an increase of 10.73% on step 1 of the pay scale and 7.49% at the top step 7
The pay increase was not enough

MERAS wants another $200 on base rates
 

An additional $6,000 lump sum as an advance on the anticipated pay equity back payMERAS wants another $600
A process for dealing with pay equity increases in future settlements 

Workforce initiatives including:

  • investment in professional development
  • a new role Maternity Care Assistant
  • recognising career pathways and Midwifery Titles
  • agreeing to develop policies to support alternative ways of work and ways to support Midwives following sentinel events.

MERAS wants:

  • a retention allowance based on agreed vacancy levels
  • an additional allowance to encourage DHB-employed midwives to increase their FTE.

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