Minister won't intervene in Auckland hospital strike

Minister won't intervene in Auckland hospital strike

More than 3000 hospital staff in Auckland will walk off the job next month, unhappy with new work hours and lower wages.

The Auckland District Health Board wants employees to move to a seven-day-a-week service from the current five and workers claim it's being funded by wage reductions.

Among those going on strike over the new employment provisions include physiotherapists, psychologists and lab technicians.

The strike hasn't come out of the blue – it's a last resort by the Public Service Association (PSA) after attempts to successfully negotiate failed.

PSA national secretary Erin Polaczuk says she became so frustrated by the situation she penned a letter to Health Minister Jonathan Coleman asking him to intervene.

He declined.

Minister won't intervene in Auckland hospital strike


Ms Polaczuk wanted all parties involved in the dispute to sit around the same table and nut out a solution -- including Dr Coleman.

"We believe his input will be crucial, as he alone can advise about the funding issues which are at the heart of this dispute."

She claims years of underfunding the health boards and pressure from the Government to do more with less is behind the new employment conditions.

"A report by Infometrics has identified a $1.7 billlion funding gap in health, and Auckland DHB chief executive Ailsa Claire has admitted funding is a crucial issue," Ms Polaczuk says.

Dr Coleman told Newshub it was a matter for the Auckland DHB, not his government -- and rejected the claims of underfunding.

"It's totally incorrect for the PSA to claim there's a $1.7 billion funding gap in health as funding has increased by $4 billion under this Government to a record $15.9 billion."

A date for the strike has not yet been confirmed, but it will be in April.