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Family Planning nurses to strike

Three Gisborne workers are among 100 New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) members working for the Family Planning Association (FPA) who will strike for 24 hours on February 17.

The strike notice was issued this week after members rejected the latest offer in collective agreement negotiations because it failed to fully address longstanding wage inequity and did not provide a tangible process to achieve this, NZNO lead advocate Chris Wilson said.

FPA staff were “simply asking” for their expertise to be recognised by giving them equitable pay.

“FPA nurses provide expert care in sexual and reproductive health for our communities and have to train and attain additional competencies to deliver the services Family Planning provides, including nurse prescribing.

“However, experienced FPA nurses are currently paid at least 8 percent less than their heath board counterparts.

“FPA nurse practitioners earn between 10 and 27 percent less than if they worked in a health board.

“Three out of the four pay rates for medical receptionist and administration roles are below the Living Wage, which is absolutely unacceptable.

“Because of this pay inequity, members say it is getting very difficult to find and keep staff, and this makes it harder for people in need to access this specialist service.

The FPA says the situation is the result of a decade of underfunding but Ms Wilson says that does not justify the undervaluation of their work.

“NZNO acknowledge that the FPA have sought additional Government funding in the past to no avail but staff at the FPA should not have to pay for the shortfall by working for lower wages.

The parties will attend mediation next Wednesday and it is hoped a resolution will be found.

“These members have never gone on strike and don't want to. They are passionate about their work and want to attract more staff to the service,” Ms Wilson said.

“But in order to do so, all administration and receptionists must have a Living Wage, and nurses must be paid the same as their peers. Not doing so is an injustice for health workers and it ultimately affects the quality of care they provide for the community.”