July 30, 2021
Nurse pay offer fails safety test
Nurses have rejected the latest pay offer because it fails to address their concerns about patient safety.
Kerri Nuku from the Nurses Association says even before Covid-19 the health system was in crisis, and they see little prospect of improvement – even from the pending health sector reforms.
"Now we've got an issue where we've got burned out nurses working in a system which isn't responsive, working in a system where when you go to work on shift you might be one of two nurses caring for a significant number of patients with a high level of complications. That puts the nurses but also the patients at a certain degree of risk," she says.
Ms Nuku says the last bargaining round was resolved with an accord on safe staffing, which nurses now feel was window-dressing by the district health boards.
Health Minister Andrew Little says the settlement proposal rejected by nurses was one their own Nurses Organisation put up.
He understands their concerns about working conditions and safe staffing levels, and he wants to see all district health boards deliver on the commitments they made to Capacity Demand Management three years ago.
The pay offer would have put an extra $13,000 over the next year alone in the pockets of every full-time employee covered by the collective agreement – a large part of that being an advance on their pay-equity claim.
Mr Little says finding comparable jobs to benchmark has taken longer than expected, but negotiations on the pay equity deal should start soon.
The Nurses Organisation says strikes planned for August 19 and September 9 and 10 will now go ahead.
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