Government, DHBs need to take responsibility over nurses' strike - nurses' union

  • 13/07/2018

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) is calling on the Government to front up with more money to solve the nurses' strike.

More than 30,000 workers walked off the job on Thursday, following failed pay and welfare negotiations.

The latest offer includes a December 2019 date for any pay equity payments to come into effect. It also includes $38 million in new funding for DHBs to immediately start hiring around 500 new nurses to address lack of staff.

New Zealand nurses start on $49,499 and under the proposed deal that would be increased to $50,932.

Nurses get a pay increase every year from there, subject to good performance, and then earn $67,000 after five years. The rejected deal offered a new top salary of $77,386. 

The offer was rejected on Tuesday after a nation wide online vote.

NZNO industrial services manager Cee Payne told The AM Show the strike ended with no major issues, but bargaining is on-going. She said it's now the Government's job to come up with something.

"The Government and the DHBs are the employer, they're hearing the stories about how unsafe it is," she said.

Ms Payne said she had heard of mental health workers in Wellington being rostered on for 17 hour shifts and nurses working huge amounts of overtime.

"An employer needs to make sure that it's safe in the hospitals, safe for the staff, that our nursing staff and our midwifery teams and safe for the patients," she said.

Prime Minister Winston Peters has told media there is no more money to offer the nurses and what is currently on the table is the best that the Government can do.

"We haven't been joking when we told the nurses via the media that this is our best offer," Mr Peters said in a news conference on Tuesday morning.

"It's not that we're not willing to - we haven't got the money."

Ms Payne said she can't disclose how much more money needs to be offered to stop the strikes, but she knows the Government has some to spend and it should be going towards nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants.

"We know governments have funding, we know that there's a surplus," she said.

"We know that there's an ability to settle this strike if those employers take the responsibility that they owe the public of this country and our nurses to make sure that they're safe."