Nurses’ Union Seeks Mediation
The New Zealand Nurses’ Organisation recently rejected an offer made by DHB and issued notification that a strike is a possibility. Their statement claimed to “strongly reject” the offer made by the district health board regarding pay and conditions, and is hoping that mediation will help the nurses avoid a strike.
Despite opening the door to mediation, the government says it is “preparing for the worst,” because it has no additional money to put toward nursing wages.
Health Minister David Clark made it clear that the nurse’s request for more money will not happen and the union’s request for doubling wages is not an option. The latest deal was already higher than what was recommended by a third-party panel.
According to New Zealand Nurses Organisation industrial services manager Cee Payne, the nurses overwhelmingly rejected the pay offer they were given and stated that for more than a decade they have been under paid. This had weighed heavily on nurses and made it so they are unable to provide safe patient care.
The offer the nurses’ union rejected included the biggest pay increase they have received in more than a decade, which included a three percent raise, a $2000 lump sum payment, and the creation of two additional pay steps. The offer also included the promise of bringing 500 new nurses into the system for support and a pledge to work toward pay equity within the field. Still, it was not enough.
According to Clark, there is a contingency plan in place in case the nurses strike. The plans were made well in advance and the government prepared for the worst.
Clark further explained that the nurses have been offered they money that is available and there is not much else the government can do if there is just no money for increasing wages.