Nurses agreed to strike for eight hours in a month due to a failure in contract deal talks.
The New Zealand Nurses Organisation, which has 30,000 workers employed in district health boards (DHBs), says members are upset about the first DHB pay deal and unanimously voted to strike.
According to the union, the deal would have provided most workers with a 1.38 percent pay raise, which would have been less than inflation.
However, district health boards argue that limiting it to that is an oversimplification, and that more nurses will expect even bigger raises. They claim that the offered raises range from 1% to 11% over the course of the agreement’s 27 months, and that a lump sum payout of $900 is included.
According to NZNO spokesperson David Wait, the discontent stemmed from the low bid, as well as the government’s wage restriction decision, which he said would essentially freeze the majority of their salaries. He claims that many nurses are at the top of their pay scale and have no room to advance.
Nurses participating in the vaccine rollout are on strike, but nurses in controlled isolation and quarantine are not.
The strike is from 11am to 7pm on Wednesday 9 June.
“Striking is always a last resort and we do have mediation with the DHBs scheduled for 18-19 May during which we will actively search for solutions that could avert strike action.
“The best alternative would be for the DHBs and government to be realistic and come up with an acceptable offer that would enhance the profession and recognise the contribution nurses have made before and since the pandemic,” the statement reads.
Wait stated that further strike action is likely.
Meanwhile, DHBs are adamant that a nurses’ strike next month would have no effect on the Covid-19 vaccine roll-out.
Dale Oliff, a DHB spokesperson, confirmed that the impasse is hoped to be settled by negotiations early next week, well ahead of the planned strike on June 9.
Although the eight-hour strike would include nurses involved in the vaccine rollout, she said it is not likely to cause significant delays.