Nurses to strike for eight hours after breakdown in pay negotiations

New Zealand nurses have voted to strike after a breakdown in pay negotiations.

The eight-hour strike will occur on June 9 from 11am to 7pm and will include nurses involved in the vaccination effort - but not those in managed isolation and quarantine.

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) Industrial Advisor David Wait said voter turnout for strike action was "very high" which reflects the anger and disappointment of the nurses.

"Members are angry and frustrated at the first DHB offer received last month. That would have given most members little more than 1.38 percent, just under the rate of inflation. This is despite the incredible sacrifices they made in 2020 to keep the country safe from COVID-19."

In April 2020, NZNO asked DHBs for a wage increase of 17 percent.

"The DHB offer on pay is about a tenth of what members have asked for," says Wait.

A nurse practitioner who spoke to Newshub at the time, under condition of anonymity, said it felt like "an April Fool's joke".

"What we've been offered is lower than the rate of inflation. Decade upon decade it's actually a pay cut if you look at it realistically. The price of stuff goes up but our salaries don't."

The Government's May 5 wage freeze announcement added insult to injury, says Wait.

He says nurses are "absolutely furious" at the announcement which would effectively freeze their wages for three years as most have already progressed to the last step of their pay scale.

"That anger has been clearly expressed in the strike ballot result, but this is about much more than just money."

Wait says nurses, midwives and other healthcare professionals work under "horrific and unsafe" conditions.

"They are genuinely worried about the future of the nursing profession.

"They do not strike on a whim and care deeply for their patients, but the time has come for a clear statement to be made."

He said the best alternative would be for the DHBs and Government to come up with an acceptable offer, which would recognise the contribution nurses have made before and since the pandemic.