23 Apr 2024

Resident doctors to strike because it's unfair some get a rise while others get pay cut

8:52 am on 23 April 2024
Doctor working in hospital to fight 2019 coronavirus disease or COVID-19. Professional healthcare people doctor, nurse or surgeon.

Photo: 123RF

A strike by junior doctors is the result of Te Whatu Ora Health New Zealand being too obedient to its political masters, a former health boss says.

About 2500 resident doctor's working for Te Whatu Ora Health New Zealand issued a strike notice for 25 hours from 7am on 7 May. Further strike action next month was also being considered.

Under the current pay offer many doctors would get a pay rise, but for 600 registrars the proposed changes would equate to a pay freeze or in some cases a cut, the doctor's union said.

Former Te Whatu Ora chair Rob Campbell told Morning Report it was a "tragedy" that would widen the divide between the agency's management and staff.

"[Te Whatu Ora] is too obedient to it's political masters," said Campbell, who was fired for making political comments.

"At some stage the leadership of an organisation like Te Whatu Ora has to stand up for staff, not stand over its staff."

The negotiators for Te Whatu Ora would have tight instructions with the Minster's office, Health Ministry and Treasury all likely involved, Campbell said.

"These people did not join the profession and do the training they've done and do the jobs they've done in order to be walking out on strike so there's some serious things wrong when this is happening."

Negotiations continue

Resident Doctors Association national secretary Deborah Powell said the offer was a "cruel irony".

"Te Whatu Ora has presented us with a pay offer which represents a significant uplift of around 15-20 percent and up to 25 percent in salary rates for some resident doctors. Because of the salary model in our collective agreement however, the impact on our members is uneven and unfair.

"Te Whatu Ora has proposed an unacceptable set of remuneration options, including what would be pay cuts or a pay freeze for nearly 600 registrars including 300 GP trainees in 2025."

The cuts were in specialities that were already experiencing shortages including radiation oncology, psychiatry and public health, she said.

Powell said members were united in ensuring no resident doctor received a pay cut.

Te Whatu Ora Health New Zealand declined an interview with RNZ, but in a statement it's chief people officer Andrew Slater said initial negotiations guaranteed no resident medical officer would get a pay cut.

Te Whatu Ora was focussed on continuing good faith bargaining, which was the best way to resolve issues and avoid disruption, Slater said.

Further discussions with the union were scheduled for next week, but contingencies were also being made in case the strike did go ahead, he said.

"Resident Medical Officers are a vital and valued part of the Health NZ workforce and we have already indicated that we are prepared to make a very significant investment in settling the NZRDA collective agreement. "

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