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Family Planning Workers Vote To Strike

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) says around 100 of its members working for the Family Planning Association (FPA) as nurses, medical receptionists/administrators and health promoters have voted to strike from 7.00am on 16 February to 7.00am on 17 February 2021.

The strike notice was issued this week after members rejected the latest offer in collective agreement negotiations, because it failed to fully address longstanding wage inequity and did not provide a tangible process to achieve this.

NZNO Lead Advocate Chris Wilson says FPA staff are simply asking for their expertise to be recognised by giving them equitable pay.

"FPA nurses provide expert care in sexual and reproductive health for our communities and have to train and attain additional competencies to deliver the services Family Planning provides, including nurse prescribing.

"However, experienced FPA nurses are currently paid at least 8 percent less than their DHB counterparts. FPA nurse practitioners earn between 10 and 27 percent less than if they worked in the DHB.

"Further, three out of the four pay rates for medical receptionist and administration roles are below the living wage which is absolutely unacceptable.

"Because of this pay inequity, members say it is getting very difficult to find and keep staff, and this makes it harder for people in need to access this specialist service.

The FPA says the current situation is the result of a decade of underfunding, but Ms Wilson says that does not justify the undervaluation of their work.

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"NZNO acknowledge that the FPA have sought additional Government funding in the past to no avail, but staff at the FPA should not have to pay for the shortfall by working for lower wages.

The parties will attend mediation on Wednesday 10 February before the strike occurs and it is hoped a resolution will be found.

"These members have never gone on strike, and don’t want to. They are passionate about their work and want to attract more staff to the service," Ms Wilson said.

"But, in order to do so, all administration and receptionists must have a living wage, and nurses must be paid the same as their peers. Not doing so is an injustice for health workers, and it ultimately affects the quality of care they provide for the community."

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