Simon Bridges backs nurses' strike

National Party leader Simon Bridges says he supports the upcoming nationwide nurses' strike - the first since 1989.

Nurses have rejected a 2 percent pay rise offer from the DHBs, voting overwhelmingly for two days of industrial action - July 5 and 12.

An independent panel recommended the country's 27,000 nurses get a $2000 lump sum payment and a 3 percent pay rise on June 1, followed by another 3 percent rise in August, and another in August 2019.

On Monday afternoon the DHBs will make an offer to nurses which "strongly reflects" those recommendations, which are estimated to come with a price tag of $200 million.

"We respect their right to take industrial action," said DHB spokeswoman Helen Mason, "although we hope it won't come to that and we look forward to discussing the revised offer with them this afternoon".

But nurses are expected to reject the offer.

"Nurses are feeling determined to make a difference this time," Cee Payne from the NZ Nurses Organisation told Newshub.

"You don't come this far and want to walk away from it. There has to be some genuine response from the employers."

Mr Bridges says it's the Government's own fault nurses will walk off the job - and they have his support.

"The Government in opposition - and in Government, actually - have really ratcheted up expectations. You can understand why the nurses feel this way, feel so strongly about it."

Simon Bridges.
Simon Bridges. Photo credit: The AM Show

He says there were no nurse strikes under National.

"We didn't see strikes and now they're happening every day all over the place. So you know, I think that's the Government's chickens coming home to roost. You've got the transport strikes, you've got the nurses strikes, you've got potentially midwives strikes. I think if I sat here long enough I could probably think of others as well.

"I think the point I am making - it's quite a serious one - is you go over the nine years  of us, you didn't see that. It was a stable environment."

Ms Payne says hospitals should expect huge disruptions.

"It will have a devastating impact I believe really seriously. We have not had national industrial action since the 1980s."

According to industry magazine Nursing Review, nurses took industrial action in 1989 after penal rates were reduced and their employers looked to introduce performance-based pay. There were regional strikes through the 1990s - nationwide strikes weren't possible thanks to the National Government's Employment Contracts Act of 1991.

A nurse with five years' experience earns $66,755. That would go up to $72,944 by August next year under the panel's recommendations.

Newshub. 

Contact Newshub with your story tips:
news@newshub.co.nz