Rejection of offer ‘no surprise’
Gisborne Hospital medical ward nurse Michell Krawczyk says it is not surprising that nurses have rejected the latest pay and conditions offer from the country’s health boards.
The dispute was about more than money, said the New Zealand Nurses Organisation delegate.
“The main issue would be safe staffing, followed by adequate pay increases for all nurses and healthcare assistants.
“It’s not just about the money, it is also about the unsafe staffing levels we have and I don’t think the offer addresses it enough.
“We need more nurses than they have offered.”
NZNO industrial services manager Cee Payne said there was ‘‘an acute staffing crisis” in nursing across the country.
NZNO officially rejected the offer from health boards on Monday, as widely expected.
The rejected offer included three 3 percent pay rises up to August 2019, the creation of two additional pay steps for registered nurses, and funding for about 500 new nursing positions across New Zealand in a package worth more than $500 million.
Both parties have committed to urgent mediation in an attempt to reach a settlement, but nurses could still strike on July 5 and 12, which would be the first such strike since 1989.
“We don’t want to strike,” said Mrs Krawczyk.
“But we have to — not only for nurses, but also for the patients and families we look after to ensure they are getting the care they rightly deserve.
“We can not give this adequately due to current staffing levels.
Local nurses believe the new funding would provide an inadequate number of new positions at Gisborne Hospital.
“With the pay increase, it was not enough for community nurses, senior nurses, healthcare assistants, enrolled nurses and junior nurses,’’ said Mrs Krawczyk.
“Although step 5 nurses were offered to go up to step 7, giving around a 15 percent increase, this was over a period of time — so not great.
“Our contract ended at the end of June 2017, so effectively it is a three-year term — so again, not great.”
Health boards spokeswoman Helen Mason said the country’s 20 health boards would do everything they could to reach agreement and prevent industrial action by NZNO nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants.
“Nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants are a highly respected and valued part of the modern team-based approach to health services. We are extremely concerned about the threat of industrial action.
“This is an excellent offer that is about much more than base pay rates.
“I think people want to know health boards are doing everything they can to respond to the nurses’ concerns.
“Patient safety is the health boards’ main priority and while we’re working to reach a settlement and avoid disruption to services, we’re also working hard to ensure emergency and life-preserving services are available if industrial action goes ahead.”