Nurses rule out more strike action despite taking pay dispute back to Employment Relations Authority

Nurses have voted to take a historic pay equity offer back to the Employment Relations Authority amid concerns the current proposal doesn't include full back pay.

Pay equity negotiations started back in 2018 and the New Zealand Nurses Organisation's  (NZNO) 40,000 members were last month supposed to vote on a settlement. 

Instead, however, the NZNO commissioned a legal review of the proposed settlement - which found it was contrary to the Equal Pay Act with regards to the back pay they expected from December 2019.  

Speaking to AM, NZNO chief executive Paul Goulter said while nurses won't strike again, the workforce would continue feeling disregarded until the issue was resolved.

"Whilst there won't be and can't be any strikes about this - until this is settled that workforce… will remain very unsettled," he told host Melissa Chan-Green.

"They regard themselves as being subject to gender discrimination over many, many years - it needs to be fixed. It needs to be fixed right now.

"We all know as the borders open, nurses will drift off overseas - it will be harder to attract them into New Zealand.

"Overall, the situation doesn't look that good."

Newshub has contacted Health Minister Andrew Little's office for comment.

Goulter said the NZNO would ask for urgency from the ERA around its ruling.

He told AM it was in everyone's interests to get the matter resolved as soon as possible.

Goulter said nurses wanted to move on so they could properly care for New Zealanders.

"There's a deep sense of injustice felt by nurses right across New Zealand and part of the workout of that injustice, particularly the gender-based discrimination, has to be a settlement that they're comfortable with - and they're certainly not in that place right now."

Little said in April he understood the agreement between the District Health Boards and unions was conclusive and he was concerned by the setback. 

The DHBs also said the move was surprising.