23 Oct 2020

Medical centre, GP nurses to strike again for pay parity with DHBs

4:58 pm on 23 October 2020

About 3200 nurses and medical admin staff at GP clinics and medical centres are expected to strike next month.

Hundreds of nurses and their supporters joined a lunch-time rally at Parliament calling on the government to step in.

Nurses striking on Parliament's grounds last month. Photo: RNZ / Ruth Hill

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) today issued a strike notice covering more than 500 practices nationwide, with a 24-hour strike set for Monday 9 November, and another two weeks later on 23 November.

This follows two national stop-work meetings, and a one-day strike last month.

The 3 September strike forced some clinics and medical centres to close for the day, and followed the failure of mediation talks with employers.

NZNO industrial advisor Chris Wilson said the union's members, who were fighting for pay parity with DHB nurses, felt fobbed off and angry at the lack of progress.

"Funders and the government must join with the employers of this workforce and act with urgency to appropriately value their primary health care workforce and halt the staff recruitment and retention issues plaguing the sector," she said.

She said mediation was pointless unless the government addressed the lack of funding at the heart of the problem.

"Just this week the Minister of Health has encouraged us to continue using the Employment Relations Authority to help progress a settlement, but we have already been to mediation with no progress."

The union has previously said nurses working in primary care were paid about 10 percent less than those working in hospitals.

The Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, a senior doctors' union, has also supported the NZNO protests, saying the fact many rural and iwi based practices could not make ends meet showed it was time for a national conversation about health funding.

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