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Thousands of health nurses to stop work over pay dispute

Newstalk ZB / Northern Advocate,
Publish Date
Thu, 23 Jul 2020, 11:48AM
Photo / File
Photo / File

Thousands of health nurses to stop work over pay dispute

Newstalk ZB / Northern Advocate,
Publish Date
Thu, 23 Jul 2020, 11:48AM

Nearly 170 primary health care nurses and administration staff at medical practices around Northland are among thousands around the country who will stop work for two hours over pay dispute.

After eight months of fruitless negotiations with New Zealand Medical Association (NZMA) to settle their multi-employer collective agreement (MECA), the New Zealand Nurses Organisation said more than 3400 of its members would stop work for two hours on July 23.

Its members work in GP clinics and accident and medical centres.

They want pay parity with those holding the same qualifications, skills and experience working for district health boards who are being paid 10.6 per cent or about $7500 more.

NZNO organiser for Northland, Julie Governor, said 166 members working in 28 GP and accident and medical centres in Northland were covered under MECA.

NZMA chairwoman Dr Kate Baddock said said it valued its nurses highly, but to do this in real terms, the Government needed to invest in the general practices to close the pay gap otherwise they would struggle to recruit and retain nurses.

She said in May, the Government announced an extra $3.92 billion for DHBs over the next four years which must be proportionately passed through to primary care.

"General practice has been disproportionately impacted by the historical under investment
in health and this needs to be rectified to rebuild sustainability, value our workforce and ensure New Zealand retains a world-class public health system."

The Ministry of Health referred all queries to NZMA.

NZNO industrial adviser Chris Wilson said it was not surprising employers have not increased their offer to one his members could accept because their funding from government was completely inadequate.

Employers have been very clear that they also want pay parity with DHBs so they can keep their staff and continue delivery of a quality primary health care service, she said.

Wilson said an experienced nurse covered by MECA being paid 10.6 per cent less than their DHB colleague was completely unjust and undervalued the amazing work these nurses did in providing expert care in the community.

This was not your usual union versus employer dispute, she said.

"Owners, doctors and managers are also disappointed that government funding for pay
parity has not been forthcoming. This is despite approaches to ex-Health Minister David Clark, the Ministry of Health and DHB officials by both NZNO and employer advocates the NZ Medical Association and Green Cross Health.

"Without additional funding, recruitment and retention issues will only be solved by passing additional costs on to the consumers. This is not a responsible solution and clearly not in the interests of communities."

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