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Workers At NZ Telehealth Services Vote To Strike For 24 Hours For Fair Pay And Respect

Whakarongorau Aotearoa workers behind New Zealand’s major telehealth services - including Healthline, 1737 Need To Talk?, Quitline, Gambling Helpline, Safe To Talk, Afterhours GP and more - will strike for 24 hours from 3pm Friday 15 September.

People working for Whakarongorau Aotearoa - the telehealth line provider - have been calling for a pay increase that reflects the cost of living, but after months of protracted bargaining their employer has offered a meagre 2.5%, says PSA Organiser Angelyse Armstrong.

"Telehealth workers care deeply about their role picking up the phone when New Zealanders call for help with their wellbeing," Armstrong says.

"This action is not taken lightly. Whakarongorau Aotearoa members have not had to take an action like this before. It’s a demonstration by the membership of their willingness to take collective action for a fair outcome that will ultimately strengthen services too," Armstrong says.

"We’re being offered a real-terms pay cut during a cost-of-living crisis. At the same time, our work has intensified with staff leaving - many because of the pay and conditions - and no extra resources being provided to meet rising need," says PSA delegate Jayne McQuarrie.

"We voted to strike to stand up for our worth," McQuarrie continues.

"When the health system is under such strain, telehealth services are essential for all our communities. For rural whānau especially, we need services to be well staffed and resourced to look after people," says Armstrong.

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"That means making sure the people on the other end of the phone have what they need to look after themselves to show up to work each day."

"We’re calling on Whakarongorau Aotearoa to come to the table with a real offer for their workers," Armstrong concludes.

Striking members of the Public Service Association Te Pūkenga Here Tikanga Mahi (PSA) and New Zealand Nurses Organisation Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa (NZNO) will rally outside Whakarongorau main offices in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

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