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Nurse to tell how being underpaid affects society

Nurse to tell Select Committee how being underpaid affects her life and all society

9:45am, Wednesday 6 March 2019

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) will be making oral submissions to the Education and Workforce Committee this morning (6 March) on the Equal Pay Amendment Bill 2018.

The oral submissions will feature Katrina Hopkinson, a registered nurse and NZNO delegate at Wellington Hospital, who will explain to the Committee just how being underpaid and undervalued as a nurse has negative effects for herself, her family, her community and New Zealand.

She says the Bill is incredibly important and that it is time the work of nurses is recognised for its worth so they can enjoy the pay equity with other professions that they deserve.

"In Wellington, banks tell nurses they should leave the profession if they want to get a home loan. How can it be that we - who are bright, educated and qualified professionals - can’t participate in society the way others can, or even afford to live in the areas where we work?"

Ms Hopkinson says many nurses need to work overtime or extra shifts, just to make ends meet.

"That means we’re away from home a lot, and we’re not able to properly care for our families, our elderly and our children. We’re not able to be there for things like sports on the weekends. We’re unable to participate in society like people in other professions do."

She says we need to get over the lingering view that nursing is sacrificial ‘women’s work’.

"Like a lot of people I see my job as a vocation, but it’s important professional work for which I have studied to become qualified. I have a sizeable student loan like any other graduate and I pay the same for bread, milk, petrol, clothes and tradesmen as everybody else.

"My children look at the situation and wonder why I would do it. It’s not a job that’s attractive to them, and that’s a real problem. If we don’t start paying nurses equitably, who is going to want to do it? Who is going to nurse us?"

NZNO generally supports the Bill but will is proposing some amendments to better align the Bill to its stated intent. These are around union involvement in pay equity claims settlements, fairness, flexibility and ensuring that the legacy of Kristine Bartlett is upheld.

NZNO will be allocated 15 minutes in which to make its oral submissions, starting around 9.45am. Speaking will be:

- Jock Lawrie, NZNO Employment Lawyer

- Cee Payne, NZNO Industrial Services Manager

- Katrina Hopkinson, NZNO Delegate

- Mairi Lucas, NZNO Manager Nursing and Professional Services.


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