3 Mar 2022

Strikes involving health workers called off

9:09 pm on 3 March 2022

Strikes by health workers planned for tomorrow and next month have been called off after an Employment Court ruled in favour of District Health Boards.

Cancer research. Laboratory developing therapeutic vaccines for the treatment of lung cancer by stimulating the immune system.

Photo: AFP / Amelie Benoist / Image Point Fr

However, health workers are angered by the the Employment Court's decision to call off two 24 hour strikes planned for 4 March and 18 March.

The Allied Union had already agreed to call off the Auckland branch of the strike, amid rising pressure on the city's health system with the Omicron outbreak.

Union organiser Will Matthews said it is unacceptable that DHBs did not speak with the union about cancelling the strikes and instead went straight to the courts.

Matthews said a short-notice court decision is the last thing under-paid and overworked health staff need.

The union has not ruled out strike action in the future.

Members are being urged to wear the campaign's colour, orange, tomorrow.

The strike action originally involved 10,000 workers.

A DHB spokesperson said Omicron is putting extraordinary pressure on DHBs and the focus of the whole system should be on caring for patients.

They say the DHBs want to settle pay talks quickly so they can address pay equity.

The Employment Relations Authority has set down facilitation between the union and DHBs for early next week.

Public Service Association (PSA)organiser Will Matthews says Auckland, Waitematā and Counties Manukau DHBs requested the union on Thursday not to go ahead with the strikes.

The PSA called the strikes for 24 hours at the country's public hospitals after more than 70 groups voted in favour, following 16 months of failed talks over pay and conditions.

The PSA said its members were angry the strikes had been cancelled.

Earlier this week DHBs went to the Employment Court to seek an injunction to halt the industrial action.

The two parties are due to meet in talks facilitated by the Employment Relations Authority next week.

The DHBs said the action would bundle pay equity and wage issues together at a bad time, as Omicron cases are soaring around the country.

The Employment Court began meeting under urgency this morning to consider the case.

It said strikes by 10,000 allied health workers would have put pressure on hospital staff and patients.

The court's decision said the strikes were illegal because it related to equal pay negotiations, not to current pay talks.

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