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Massive MECA Negotiations

19 December 2005

Massive MECA Negotiations To Pave the Way For Pay Parity For Primary Health Nursing Workforce

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation begins negotiations tomorrow with hundreds of primary health employers in what could be the largest MECA (multi-employer collective agreement) in the country.

The negotiations cover 2,700 nursing, administration and support staff employed by 657 employers, most of whom are GPs but also including Maori and Iwi providers, accident and medical centres and youth and Pacific health centres.

NZNO members are seeking pay parity with their counterparts in public hospitals.

"Although primary heath nurses are playing a much greater role and taking increasing responsibility, their pay lags behind," said NZNO advocate Chris Wilson.

"The success of Government's primary health care strategy depends on this workforce and additional government funding for pay parity is vital to the success of these negotiations."

By July 2006 a practice nurse in a GP surgery will earn around $160 less a week than a registered nurse in a public hospital.

Chris Wilson said NZNO members in primary health overwhelmingly backed the huge MECA as the way to ensure pay parity.

But, with negotiations set for tomorrow, 119 of the primary health employers had failed to comply with their statutory bargaining responsibilities and failed to nominate representatives to attend the negotiations.

Chris Wilson said NZNO had been forced to start legal proceedings to bring these employers to the negotiating table.

"These employers are not acting in good faith, by attempting to ignore their employee's democratic right to be part of a national MECA agreement," said Chris Wilson.

"It is in everyone's interests, including employers, that the national primary health MECA succeeds in delivering pay parity to ensure we retain a skilled, dedicated primary health nursing workforce to deliver on the government's primary healthcare strategy," she said.

ENDS

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