Nurses' strike to go ahead after negotiations fail

A last ditch effort to avoid Thursday's 24-hour nurses' strike has failed.

Around 30,000 nurses across the country will walk off the job, bringing all non-essential hospital care to a stand-still.

The nurses union and DHBs representative held talks on Wednesday trying to avert the nationwide strike. That looks to have failed, with nurses swapping hospital wards for picket lines.

"We're very disappointed that there's been an announcement that the strike's going ahead given that we don't have the recommendations yet," says Helen Mason, CEO of the Bay of Plenty District Health Board.

Striking nurses will protest outside hospitals tomorrow, with more than 70 pickets, rallies and marches planned.

The biggest is expected to be in Auckland, where nurses will march down Queen St.

"Not having 70 percent of your workforce in the workplace is a really significant challenge - you don't address that easily," says Ms Mason.

Nurses had been offered a $500 million deal which included pay increases of 12.5 percent to 15.9 percent over 25 months, and 500 more nurses to cope with shortages. But that wasn't enough for nurses.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson says the Government has done all it can to provide the best offer to nurses.

"We can't make up for nine years of neglect of the health sector in one go," he says.

"We're committed to a long-term development of the nursing workforce, but this half a billion offer is a significant increase."

Some nurses will be at work to help DHBs provide life-preserving services tomorrow, so emergency care will still operate.

Other health services will grind to a halt leading to the deferral of up to 8000 elective surgeries.


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