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NZNO Members To Have Historic Say On Pay Equity

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa (NZNO) says its 35,000 or so members employed by Te Whatu Ora will start voting tomorrow (Monday 24 July) on whether or not to accept the latest proposed Pay Equity settlement.

The proposed settlement arose from mediation between Te Whatu Ora, NZNO and the PSA who have been in litigation over the claim in the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) and Employment Court since early 2022.

NZNO Chief Executive Paul Goulter said the Pay Equity claim, first lodged in 2017 under the Equal Pay Act, is meant to address long-standing sex-based discrimination and bring nursing wages in line with the wages of male-dominated professions that do similar work.

"It’s a significant and historic vote and if members accept it the amended pay rates would be effective from 7 March 2022 and would begin to be paid within six weeks of the proposed settlement being approved. If members don’t agree to the proposed settlement, we will resume judicial proceedings, and the outcome will be for the ERA and Employment Court to decide."

However, Paul Goulter said Pay Equity was entirely separate from collective agreement negotiations, and the two should not be conflated.

"These are wages nurses, midwives, health care assistants and kaimahi hauora are already entitled to because of the longstanding sex-based discrimination they have faced.

"We’re concerned that Pay Equity is often mentioned when the latest collective agreement offer from Te Whatu Ora is being described as if they were part of the same deal, which they are not.

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"Collective agreement negotiations are about cost of living, labour market matters and, of course, all the other terms and conditions. They are not about gender discrimination which is addressed under the Equal Pay Act."

NZNO’s Te Whatu Ora members will also vote 1-7 August over whether to accept the latest collective agreement offer from Te Whatu Ora, which, Paul Goulter says, is an improvement on the last offer, though it does fall short in terms of members’ claims around safer staffing practices, nurse to patient ratios and health and safety.

A 24-hour strike planned to commence at 7am on 9 August, which was organised before the latest offer, will be called off if members vote to accept the offer.

"Members demanded this strike because of their frustration over the lack of progress and slow responses from Te Whatu Ora in negotiations, which have been going on since the current agreement expired back in October.

"It’s now entirely up to members to decide whether the flat rate salary increase of $4000 ($5000 for senior nurses) and a further 3 percent next year will be sufficient for them to settle and put a halt to strike action, and they are looking at this entirely separately from Pay Equity."

The offered collective agreement pay rises will be based on the new Pay Equity rates, if members vote to accept the proposed Pay Equity settlement agreement.

The Pay Equity ballot closes on 31 July.

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