Nurses vote to accept DHB pay offer

Medical staff moving patient through hospital corridor
Photo credit: iStock

Nurses have voted by a "significant majority" to accept their latest pay offer from DHBs.

It was the fifth employment offer from DHBs and it brings almost a year of negotiations and the threat of further strike action to a close.

The pay offer included two new pay steps for senior nurses and midwifes, a definite date for the implementation of pay equity, a commitment to implement the safe staffing scheme Care Capacity and Demand Management (CCDM), and a minimum pay increase of 12.5 percent by August 2019.

"The campaign for safe staffing and better pay that continued through nationwide rallies for health, helped to bring public attention to the unacceptable workloads and working conditions of the public health sector nursing workforce and this helped to secure an acceptable MECA (Multi-Employer Collective Agreement)," New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) industrial services manager Cee Payne said.

NZNO will urgently work with DHBs on implementing the conditions of the agreement.

"Immediate attention to improving safe staffing with complete implementation of CCDM (Care Capacity Demand Management)  by 2021 will address longstanding issues of work load and working conditions which, have negatively affected the quality of care nurses provide and the morale of nursing teams," Ms Payne said.

"The ability to realise pay equity for public sector nurses and midwifes by December 2019 will address the historic undervaluing of work in a profession where the majority of employees are women, laying down a foundation for a much safer and valued career in nursing."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Health Minister Dr David Clark said they're "delighted" nurses have accepted the offer.

"Our nurses are dedicated, caring professionals and deserve decent and safe working conditions. This settlement rightly delivers the biggest pay increase nurses have seen in a decade and will put 500 more nurses in our hospitals," Ms Ardern said.

"This settlement will go a long way to addressing nurses' concerns, but the Government accepts there is still more to be done to better support them.

"While today represents a conclusion of bargaining it also marks the start of a long term programme to rebuild our public health system and the status of the nursing profession."

Dr Clark commended the NZNO and DHBs for "finding common ground" after what he admitted were "lengthy, and at times, testing negotiations".

"As Health Minister, the one thing I hear over and over again from the public is just how good our nurses are," he said.

"They are at the heart of so much that our public health service does and deserve a settlement that recognises the particular challenges they face, including their limited pay scale and safe staffing issues."

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