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Decisive Strike Vote By NZNO Te Whatu Ora Members

Members of the New Zealand Nurses Organisation Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa (NZNO), who are employed by Te Whatu Ora, have voted overwhelmingly in support of a 24-hour strike on 9-10 August.

NZNO Chief Executive Paul Goulter says the strike ballot, which closed at noon today, had very high member participation and the result was absolutely decisive.

"Members demanded this ballot because they are extremely frustrated at 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.

"Despite the extremely difficult and unsafe working environment they face every day in our public hospitals and worksites, which has been well-covered in the media, they do not feel they are being heard or taken seriously.

"To date, claims in negotiations around safer staffing practices, nurse to patient ratios and health and safety have pretty much fallen on deaf ears, and these members have simply had enough."

Paul Goulter said nurses, midwives, health care assistants and kaimahi hauora are always extremely reluctant to strike because of the impact it has on patients.

"But there comes a point when they decide they have to strike for the very wellbeing of those patients, whose health and everyday care is jeopardised by unsafe staffing levels that Te Whatu Ora refuses to address."

He said that, as with any strike action in the public arena, NZNO members will work with Te Whatu Ora and do their best to provide life preserving services at all hospitals and worksites for the duration of the strike.

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The strike ballot was organised before the latest offer was received from Te Whatu Ora yesterday, Paul Goulter said.

He said the union will proceed with the strike unless members vote to ratify the recently received offer. A ratification vote on the offer will open on 1 August and close on 7 August.

A strike notice will be issued to Te Whatu Ora on Monday 24 July. The strike will start at 7am on 9 August 2023 and end at 7am on 10 August 2023 at every site where Te Whatu Ora provides health care services or hospital care services.

Meanwhile, NZNO Te Whatu Ora members are also set to vote on a Pay Equity offer from the Government and Te Whatu Ora, which, Paul Goulter says, is meant to address long-standing gender discrimination.

"Pay Equity is an entirely separate process from collective agreement negotiations because it addresses an historic undervaluation of a female-dominated profession that simply has to be corrected."

The Pay Equity ratification ballot will open on 24 July and close on 31 July.

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