30 Jan 2019

Midwives' union issues strike notice as pay dispute rolls on

9:04 pm on 30 January 2019

Hospital midwives around the country are threatening further strikes next month if they can't get an agreement soon on better pay and conditions.

Widwives rally in Wellington.

Midwives rally in Wellington last year after failed talks over better pay and work conditions. Photo: RNZ / John Lake

The midwives' union Midwifery Employee Representation and Advisory Service (MERAS) has issued a notice for rolling 12-hour strikes from 9am to 9pm between 11 February and 14 February.

There's been no negotiations since September last year and strikes were narrowly avoided this month after the Employment Relations Authority got involved at the last minute.

But after four facilitations with the authority, there was still no resolution.

Union co-leader Jill Ovens said there would be strikes if Friday's meeting did not yield the right outcome.

"We've put up a number of possible solutions and that isn't just in terms of a percentage difference or a dollar difference. We've put up quite a few different option but they've all been rejected outright.

"So at this point we're sort of hoping that the DHBs will come up with something."

She said midwives had been offered the same deal that the nurses accepted last year, but midwives wanted their own deal.

"They want recognition of their profession, they want recognition of the high level of responsibility that they have, the high level of skill and the qualifications that they hold."

The union said midwives were earning $66,755 a year at the top end of the pay scale.

"We want a differential that recognises the midwives responsibilities and qualifications," Ms Ovens said.

The union applied for and was granted urgency for a facilitation process in the Employment Relations Authority that started on 14 January.

Gatherings and marches were being planned around the country in conjunction with the February strikes with a hīkoi from the south and north coming together at Parliament on 14 February.

The strikes will be by DHB area, as follows:

  • 11 February Northland, Waitakere, Auckland, Counties Manukau, Southern
  • 12 February Waikato, Lakes, Bay of Plenty, Tairāwhiti, South Canterbury, West Coast
  • 13 February Taranaki, Whanganui, Palmerston North, Hawke's Bay, Canterbury
  • 14 February Wairarapa, Hutt Valley, Capital and Coast, Nelson-Marlborough

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