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Nurses Reject DHB Offer And Confirm Strike Action

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation says its 30,000 members who work in DHBs have voted overwhelmingly to reject a second offer in their current round of multi-employer collective agreement (MECA) negotiations. This means the eight-hour strike planned for Wednesday 9 June will go ahead affecting all public hospitals and DHB facilities.

The ballot closed today at Noon and NZNO Lead Advocate David Wait said he was pleased at the exceptionally high voter turnout and at the member unity the result reveals.

"Members are facing serious nursing workforce issues, with pay rates that do not attract people into the profession or retain the people we have, and staffing levels which stretch them to breaking point, putting them and their patients at risk.

"This second DHB offer has not significantly changed and does not address these issues. Our members are genuinely concerned that nursing shortages would increase if it was accepted, and that standards of care for all in Aotearoa New Zealand would suffer as a result.

"Ironically some DHBs have requested to have more staff on strike day to provide life preserving services than they would ordinarily have in their wards on a non-strike day. That staff levels are regularly below life preserving services levels should concern everyone.

"We want the DHBs to be transparent about this being a large-scale problem where staff and patients are regularly put at risk. The DHBs have attempted to respond to this claim, but after years of delays and failed promises, members want to see some accountability on their part."

David Wait said the thing that made the rejected offer different was the inclusion of a lump sum payment of $4,000 (gross and pro rata) which was a part payment on back pay that would be owed to members through the pay equity claim, which should be settled by the end of the year.

"Members know that lump sum payments do not lift actual rates of pay, which impacts on the long-term issues of a health system that values nurses and their work, attracts new people into the profession and encourages others back from overseas.

"They also find it unfair that they are being asked to wait for the pay equity process, when there is uncertainty about when this will happen or what the results will be."

He said NZNO members were resolute and that further strike action could not be ruled out.

"It’s heart-breaking that nurses and other health workers feel so undervalued that they would choose industrial action. Nobody wants this and the best way for future strikes to be avoided would be through a fair and decent offer.

"We need the Government and the DHBs to come up with a profession-enhancing offer right now that truly recognises the contribution nursing staff make and that ensures the future of nursing for the wellbeing and safety of us all."

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