Let’s use pay equity to stop strikes and find a solution
District Health Boards say the Government’s announcement on pay equity is a formula to break the impasse in pay talks with the New Zealand Nurses Organisation.
Spokesperson Dale Oliff says there is now an opportunity to prevent disrupting hospital services and focus on the key claims of nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants.
“Today’s announcement by the Government to fund a settlement of the nurses’ pay equity claim should be seen as a circuit breaker to the current standoff. We hope the union will join us in trying to work out a solution.
“DHBs have today asked the Employment Relations Authority for urgent facilitation to help the two sides find a way through the stalled pay talks and prevent ongoing disruption to patients and hospitals that are all at or near capacity.
“What we’re suggesting to the union is we ask the Authority to make a recommendation to settle the terms and conditions of the employment agreement so we can concentrate on the pay equity process and address one of the nurses’ key claims – how their job is valued.
“The Minister’s review of safe staffing announced today will also help address much of the union’s concerns.
“The historic undervaluation of nursing is something we all agree on, and the Government has now given us the funding and green light to negotiate a settlement that will be worth hundreds of millions.
“Given the undertaking by the Government today, we’d also ask the union to withdraw the notices for strike action on Thursday and instead use the time to discuss how we now move forward.
“DHB planning is already well-advanced for the strike – we’ve deferred non-acute and elective procedures so we can concentrate on emergency and essential services – but no one will object to a last-minute change if it prevents disrupting hospitals.
“If the strike does proceed it’s important people remember emergency and essential services will be available and we don’t want people to delay seeking medical treatment or going to hospital if the matter is urgent.
“People can also call 111 for emergencies or an ambulance. They will also still be able to visit their GP or local pharmacy or call Healthline on 0800 611 116,” says Ms Oliff.