The Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers (ANZASW) wishes to once again express its solidarity with nurses who have been engaged in industrial action.
Nurses, like social workers, play an irreplaceable role in society, offering vital preventative services and standing with people during times of acute crisis. They are undervalued yet indispensable, saving or changing lives on a daily basis; their care has been delivered even as workloads have increased, the cost of living has risen and wages have stagnated.
Now the time has finally come for nurses to call for change; last week’s strike was the first of its kind in thirty years. They have waited patiently, mindful of the interests of patients, for their voices to be heard by government; finally they have decided to take decisive action to call for changes that will benefit both nurses and those they care for: those who have opted to strike are seeking not only a fair deal on wages, but for more nurses to be employed in hospitals so that patients can receive better care.
ANZASW believes that nurses’ actions are both principled and necessary. Nurses deserve fair pay and are justified in calling for an increase in the workforce, as it is inevitable that excessive workloads and carer burnout will impact service users.
It is firmly in the public interest that the government and district health boards listen to nurses’ demands. We offer them our firm support; we hope that ongoing negotiations will lead to a mutually satisfactory resolution. If the deadlock continues, however, and further strike actions are required, we will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with our public sector colleagues.