14 May 2021

Nurses vote to strike for 8 hours over breakdown in pay negotiations

2:33 pm on 14 May 2021

Nurses have voted to strike for an eight-hour period in a month's time over a breakdown in pay offer negotiations.

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Photo: 123RF

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation, which has 30,000 members working in district health boards (DHB), says members are angry at the first DHB pay offer last month and overwhelmingly voted to strike.

The union said the offer would have given most members a 1.38 percent wage increase, below inflation.

However the district health boards said reducing it to that is an oversimplification, and many nurses would receive much larger increases. They say offered increases are between 1 and 11 percent over the 27 month term of the agreement, and include a lump sump payment of $900.

NZNO spokesperson David Wait said the frustration from the low offer was coupled with the government's wage restraint announcement, which he said would effectively freeze most of their wages. He said many nurses are on the top step of their pay scale so have no room to move up.

The strike includes nurses involved in the vaccination rollout, but does not include nurses in managed isolation and quarantine.

The strike is from 11am to 7pm on Wednesday 9 June.

"Striking is always a last resort and we do have mediation with the DHBs scheduled for 18-19 May during which we will actively search for solutions that could avert strike action.

"The best alternative would be for the DHBs and government to be realistic and come up with an acceptable offer that would enhance the profession and recognise the contribution nurses have made before and since the pandemic," the statement reads.

Wait said further strike action is possible.

Meanwhile DHBs are confident that strike action by nurses next month will not have a significant impact on the Covid-19 vaccination roll-out.

A DHB spokesperson, Dale Oliff, said it's hoped the impasse will be resolved through mediation early next week, well ahead of the proposed strike on the 9 June.

She said while the eight-hour strike will include nurses working in the vaccination rollout, it is not expected to cause much delay.

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