No more money available for nurses - Grant Robertson

Finance Minister Grant Robertson has ruled out giving district health boards more funding so they can offer nurses a better pay deal.

A two-day strike is looming with nurses rejecting the latest offer, which Labour has described as the best they've had in more than a decade.

A strike notice has been issued for July 5, and another for July 12 is expected next week. But there remains a slim chance of a compromise, with the Nurses Organisation and the DHBs going into mediation.

"We hope by the end of Monday we might have another offer for members to consider," spokeswoman Cee Payne told The AM Show on Friday.

 "We've always said it's not about money. This dispute's about safe patient care. It's about the value of nurses' work, and it's about having a quality nursing workforce in this country."

Mr Robertson said any new offer would have to be made using funds already allocated, as there's no more.

"We've said this is the offer that's on the table, if there's a way of organising it differently that's fine," he told The AM Show.

"This is the amount of money that's on the table and we're happy for discussions to go on, but we've been very clear in the last week about that."

Judith Collins and Phil Twyford.
Judith Collins and Phil Twyford. Photo credit: Getty

National MP Judith Collins said Labour's spent all the money it has on other things.

"If only Phil [Twyford, Housing Minister] hadn't taken $2 billion for KiwiBuild and $2.8 billion for the tertiary free loans… They've spent it, that's the problem, on those big-ticket items."

Even with Labour's "big-ticket items", Mr Twyford said the offer is the best the nurses have had in 14 years and if it could have been more generous, it would have been.

"It's the legacy of nine years of neglect…There's no question that the nurses deserve more, but we can't fix the legacy of neglect all in one go. I think this is a pretty good offer."

Nurses last got a massive pay boost in 2005.

Mr Twyford hinted that future Budget surpluses may allow for better deals in the years ahead.

"We've got a massive job to catch up on public services that have been run down for a decade."

Teachers are also considering industrial action, with meetings being held around the country to decide on a course of action.

Ms Collins said neither teachers nor nurses went on strike when National was in Government. Teacher Kahli Oliviera last week told The AM Show they didn't think they'd get any "traction" with National.