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DHBs Surprised By Nurses ‘No’ Vote

District Health Boards say the New Zealand Nurses Organisation and its members have turned their backs on a settlement package of safe staffing and patient initiatives plus pay rises worth more than $400 million.

Nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants have rejected the DHBs’ fourth settlement offer and DHB spokesperson Dale Oliff now expects the union will issue notice of strike action for later in August.

“No one wants to see more strikes and disruption to patient services – DHBs will consider what they can do to prevent that happening, and I urge the union to do the same.

“Our team will be reaching out to the union as soon as it possibly can tomorrow morning.

“During mediation, DHBs agreed to all NZNO’s expectations around safe staffing, and on that basis NZNO was prepared to take the complete offer to its members. That’s why we’re so surprised by the response.

“The package was a significant increase on the last offer with several initiatives to help address workforce shortages and safe staffing, significant increases on base rates, and lump sums totalling $7,200.

“Using an advance on the expected pay equity has allowed us to increase the offer significantly to put together a package over $400 million – almost as much as the record $500 million pay settlement in 2018.

“We’re willing to consider different ways of shaping the settlement, but the union needs to engage in a meaningful way.

“During the course of these negotiations, DHBs have tabled four offers for settlement – each one bigger than the one before. The union hasn’t budged from its starting point of 17%.

“At some stage, the NZNO has to stop saying ‘It’s not enough’ and be clear about what will settle these talks.

“If the offer had been accepted, it would have meant an investment of almost a billion dollars over three years to address pay and workforce issues. On top of that, the nursing workforce has increased by more than 3,000 over the same period.

“Negotiation involves a degree of realism and compromise, DHBs have shown we’re prepared to move and I’d urge the NZNO and its members to reconsider their position,” says Ms Oliff.

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