Nurses to reject pay offer, vote to strike

Author
Frances Cook,
Publish Date
Tue, 10 Jul 2018, 10:01AM

Nurses to reject pay offer, vote to strike

Author
Frances Cook,
Publish Date
Tue, 10 Jul 2018, 10:01AM

Thousands of nurses have voted to walk off the job for the first time in 30 years, after rejecting the DHBs' latest pay offer.

The New Zealand Nurses' Organisation (NZNO) said members voted to reject the latest proposed District Health Board Nursing and Midwifery Multi-Employer Collective Agreement offer.

The decision means a 24-hour strike planned for Thursday will go ahead.

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The latest pay offer was the fourth from DHBs, and the NZ Nurses Organisation noted voter turnout was high, and the result closer than last time.

Industrial services manager Cee Payne said 30,000 NZNO members would be involved in the strike, although some would work to ensure life-preserving services continued.

"Life preserving services and contingency plans are coming to completion with the 20 district health boards.

"We are confident that these will be in place as patient safety and public safety is paramount."

DHBs have requested further facilitation, but NZNO responded that because there were no more funds for an improved offer, facilitation wouldn't be appropriate. However, the Employment Relations Authority had ordered that the organisation must continue with facilitation starting after lunch today and continuing tomorrow morning if need be.

"The issues faced and reported by our members have arisen from a decade of severe underfunding of our public hospitals which have failed to keep pace with growing community need, the ageing population and workforce, and increased costs," Payne said.

She said it was unlikely the latest round of facilitation would result in an agreement nurses would be happy with if there was no more money available.

There are potentially over 30,000 NZNO members involved. Many staff covered by the DHB MECA have agreed to provide life-preserving services over the duration of the strike.

Online voting on the DHB's revised offer closed at 5pm yesterday.

The latest offer saw nurses given at least a 9.5 per cent pay rise over the next year while $38 million of new funding was offered to allow district health boards to hire extra staff.

Contingency planning for strikes continued while the votes were being cast, to ensure life-preserving services continued if the offer was rejected.

That means many non-essential services, including surgeries and appointments, have already been cancelled throughout the country.

Nurses haven't gone on strike in New Zealand for 30 years.

NZNO members previously voted to reject the DHBs' earlier offer of 9 per cent for all member nurses by August 2019, which equated to $500m.