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Further Strike Action by Resident Doctors Planned

Further Strike Action by Resident Doctors Planned for the New Year

New Zealand’s Resident Doctors have voted to take further strike action in support of settlement of their MECA (Multi Employer Collective Employment Agreement) which will cease to exist at the end of February 2017 unless renewed before then.

The strike will involve a complete withdrawal of labour by NZRDA members for a period of 73 hours commencing at 0700 hrs on Tuesday January 17, 2017, finishing at 0800hrs on Friday 20 January 2017.

NZRDA acknowledges that since the strike in October 2016 progress in bargaining has occurred, however negotiations came to a standstill again shortly before Christmas.

“NZRDA acknowledges that the DHBs have come a long way from “no”, said Dr Deborah Powell, National Secretary of NZRDA, “however this is something we need to get right, and there is still a way to go before we can safely say we are there. Bringing the negotiations to a standstill is not the way to achieve that” said Dr Powell.

Outstanding issues include:
1. Whether rostered days off will be meaningful and recuperative for resident doctors.
2. How the roster will work effectively, and to maintain as much as possible continuity within teams for patient-care and doctor’s training.
3. The DHBs claim to have ultimate say on the rosters as opposed to the current system that provides for agreement between the RMOs and their DHB.
4. Whilst previously we had agreed the doctors taking days off would be replaced by another doctor, the DHBs are now suggesting that some of those that remain on duty should pick up the work of the missing doctor in addition to their normal workload. “To the resident doctors, this means safer hours but unsafe workloads.” said Dr Powell.

As part of a possible settlement, the Resident Doctors have agreed to work back to back weekends and will take up to half of their days off during the week. “In recognition of this disruption to our lives, we want at least some of our time off to be around what weekends we do have free, so we can have some meaningful quality time with family and friends” said Dr Powell.

The second part of this equation is ongoing care for the patient and training of doctors. “We try and maximise the patient seeing the same doctors and conversely minimise the situation where a doctor sees a patient one day but then disappears for days off the next.” Says Dr Powell. “All of this can be accommodated in rosters which the DHBs own managers have now trialled and found to be very workable; we just need the CEOs to say “yes”.

The DHBs also want the day we start night shifts to count as a day off, even though we have little personal use of that day as we are sleeping in preparation for the upcoming night shift. “Not to sleep during the day ahead of that night shift would result in our effectively being up 24 hours by the end of that night shift; an unsafe proposition.” says Dr Powell.

Informal discussions are continuing between the parties.

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