29 May 2018

Nurses' pay rise: 'This is a substantial increase' - DHBs

10:43 am on 29 May 2018

District Health Boards say they are optimistic their latest pay offer will prevent a proposed nurses' strike in July.

Midwives rally in Wellington.

Photo: RNZ / John Lake

Nurses have been offered pay rises of 9 percent over the next 15 months.

The offer is being considered by the New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO).

District Health Boards (DHBs) have been in pay talks for months with nurses who say they are being overworked and underpaid.

The announcement by DHBs was made after the NZNO voted in favour of nationwide strikes over pay and staffing concerns and said its members had agreed to stop working for 24 hours on 5 July and 13 July, if necessary.

The pay offer is part of a $520 million package, and included a $2000 one-off payment plus $48m to increase staffing levels.

Salary limits would also increase for registered nurses with more than five years' experience, translating to rises of about 16 percent for some staff.

DHBs spokesperson Helen Mason told Morning Report she was optimistic the offer would be accepted.

"This is a substantial increase for nurses," she said.

"We strongly encourage nurses to look at the offer closely, to understand the offer, and to speak to their union representatives about it."

Ms Mason said the offer was a significant increase on the previous one.

"If you look at a senior nurse currently ... at the moment their base rate would be $66,000, under this deal their base rate would move to $77,000 ... when you take all those things [allowances] into consideration the average package would go from $81,000 currently to $93,000 under the new deal by December 2019."

But registered nurse Danni Wilkinson said the average nurse was not going to be earning $93,000.

"That's a nurse working in the DHB who's spending at least one weekend shift per week at work and also doing about 60 hours a year of overtime, over 40 hours a week ... and then on top of that four and a half weeks out of that year doing night shifts," she said.

Ms Wilkinson said nurses should reject the offer.

"The DHBs are being devious in the way that they have released this information," she said.

NZNO is not commenting on the latest offer - it said it was surprised to hear DHBs had released the updated package to media yesterday.

The union will be analysing the offer over the next few days and expects to present its analysis to members on Thursday.

Nurses will then be consulted on whether they are in support of the pay package over the coming weeks, before voting on whether to accept the offer - or go ahead with the strikes.

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