The New Zealand Nurses Organisation’s (NZNO) decision to lift strike notices and accept the Government’s improved pay offer is a positive move towards settling district health board nurses’ pay claims, Health Minister Andrew Little said today.
“It’s encouraging that the discussions between NZNO and DHBs over the nurses’ employment agreement have resulted in a new offer that will go out to nurses, and that the union has lifted strike notices for July 29 and 30,” Mr Little said.
Nurses had voted to hold strikes in July, August and September in support of their pay claims.
“Now that DHBs no longer have to spend time preparing to deal with the major disruption a strike would cause we can focus instead on resolving the main issue, which is the nurses’ pay-equity claim,” Minister Little said.
“Separate to pay negotiations, I have been driving officials hard to put together a comprehensive and principled offer on pay equity and we are a month away from tabling something that means we can address the long-standing historical unfairness that nurses have faced.”
He said nurses had been under-paid for years, “largely because it’s a female-dominated profession”.
“Settling the pay-equity claim means that for the first time, their work will be recognised and valued as much as comparable professions.”
“Labour has a proud track record on these issues and we have already increased nurses’ pay by more than 10 per cent in the four years we have been in Government.”
Earlier this month, NZNO lead advocate, David Wait said members remained resolute about ongoing strike action to achieve the recognition and working conditions that would ensure nursing remained a viable profession.
“We are facing a national health crisis in terms of safe staffing, recruitment and retention; and the working conditions of our members face can no longer be endured and that’s why our issues matter,” he said.
“Nursing is a caring profession and it’s heart-breaking nurses feel so undervalued that they would choose ongoing strike action.
“This is about the wellbeing and safety of everyone in Aotearoa New Zealand.”
Minister Little said the offer that was made to nurses to settle their employment agreement was within the Government’s employment relations expectations for the public sector.
He thanked both bargaining teams for their hard work to make progress, and urged them to continue to work together constructively.