Mike Hosking: Nurses need to be realistic in pay dispute

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Tue, 29 May 2018, 9:11AM
The Labour Government is creating an environment where everyone wants a pay rise. (Photo / Supplied)

Mike Hosking: Nurses need to be realistic in pay dispute

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Tue, 29 May 2018, 9:11AM

If I was a nurse, I'd take it. Nine per cent is a good deal.  

It's a better deal than the independent panel put forward, it comes with a couple of grand as a sign up payment, more money for recruiting and better callout payments.  

It takes the average income of a nurse to almost $100,000 a year.  

That I suspect in most people’s books, and this is the key to all of this, is a pretty good deal. And they'd be pushing it uphill if they still want to strike.  

And the "key” is public support, and nurses more than most have it in bucket loads for fairly obvious and sensible reasons.  

But as in all things in life, there is a quid pro quo and in this case, it's about what's fair and reasonable.  

And nine per cent is more than fair and reasonable, no one else is getting anywhere close. And if they want to scrap it out, part of their argument is over pay parity with teachers, and they want 11 per cent.

But once you go down that track, you're in real trouble given the education unions are from another age, out to lunch and have no one's best interests at heart but their own.  

And that’s before you get to the simple reality that the nurses deal alone is well in excess of half a billion dollars, and DHBs don’t actually have half a billion dollars.

You can't just magic up money because you feel aggrieved when it comes to a wage.

And further might I point out that the ongoing argument used by many, that nurses haven't got decent pay rises previously, is not a good argument to mount now. Pay rises don’t accrue.  

If you feel hard done by five years back you don’t get to make it up another day. Life doesn’t work like that. Your contract is up, you argue your case, you settle an agreement, you move forward.

But here's where this is dangerous, let's say the nurses see sense and get nine per cent, that’s on top of the huge increase for midwives in the budget.

And let's say the teachers end up with a big number too, add that to the aged care workers last year, and what have you got? Workplace wide expectation.

Everyone with their hand out, and where does that lead? Unemployment.

Because little if any of this is based on productivity. In other words, nothing more is getting made, nothing new is getting done. It's just the cost of doing it has gone up, and there are very few if any employers outside the state sector that have the billions sitting around to cover that sort of bill.  

And that's before you get to the fact it's inflationary, which leads to rising interest rates and so it goes.  

Nurses deserve more, teachers deserve more. But we are now at the point of, how much more? And who pays and can they pay?

What is the bigger picture of just seeing a soft, left-leaning government who are union friendly and painted for their own political purposes?  A landscape of misery and woe in the workforce thus creating what now looks to be a wildly out of control cash bonanza by all and sundry.  

This isn't Lotto, it's real money and a bucket load of it.

So if the expectation isn't curtailed by realism, people will be going broke.