9 Jun 2024

Junior doctors to reduce Sunday hours as industrial action rolls on

5:56 pm on 9 June 2024
Resident Doctors' Association strike in Dunedin

Junior doctors on the picket line in Dunedin in May. Members of the Resident Doctors' Association took industrial action over pay and conditions three times last month and will start reducing time worked on Sundays from 16 June, the union says. Photo: RNZ / Tess Brunton

Junior doctors are calling time on working an extra 30 hours in the weekend after a full-time week, as they continue to boost their industrial action.

National secretary of the Resident Doctors' Association, Deborah Powell, said the union had been calling for an end to back-to-back 15-hour shifts on Saturdays and Sundays.

"Why we still have so much resistance to resident doctors working reasonable hours, quite frankly, is beyond me," she said.

Working more than 70 hours a week was not good for doctors or patients, Powell added.

From 16 June, resident doctors will start reducing time worked on Sundays, from 15 hours to eight.

Health New Zealand said it was offering resident medical offers average salary increases of 18 percent, or $20,000, by this time next year.

The new industrial action follows three recent strikes by union members over pay and conditions.

Resident Doctors' Association president James Anderson said in May that its more than 3000 members were working all week and then doing back-to-back shifts on the weekend.

"And that means over the course of seven days, they will clock up about 71.5 hours which is an interesting number because the legal maximum in our contract is 72 hours, so we get right up 71.5, there's a clause in their contract that says we should work towards 60 hours but we've never managed to get the employer close to that."

In a statement, Health New Zealand chief executive Margie Apa said the organisation had "offered a structured process" to work with doctorrs and the unions around their concerns about weekend staffing.

Health New Zealand was "very disappointed" at the union's responses to its pay offer, which the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) had recommended be put to members for a vote, she said.

"The ERA has also recommended that current strike action be suspended until the outcome of that vote is known."

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