10 Jul 2018

Why are nurses striking?

12:55 pm on 10 July 2018

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) has rejected the latest pay offer from their DHB employers and will be going ahead with Thursday's strike action. Here's what you need to know.

NZNO industrial services manager Cee Payne.

Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Who are the NZNO?

  • The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) is a nursing union representing over 46,000 nurses and health workers
  • It negotiates salary and conditions for nurses, midwives and hospital aides working in the public and private sectors, other health professionals and health sector workers
  • More than 30,000 of its members are involved in the pay dispute

Why are they striking?

  • Nurses have rejected four pay offers from DHBs in just over a year
  • The latest offer boosted the minimum pay increase nurses would receive from 9 percent to 12.5 percent, but delays the time taken for the pay-rises to take effect
  • DHBs and the government have maintained there was no more money available for nurses' pay negotiations
  • The Nurses Organisation is recommending the improved offer which includes pay increases of 12.5 to 15.9 percent, to be rolled out over 25 months
  • Strike action was also scheduled for early July but was called off because the DHB offer was improved and NZNO recommended their members accept it
  • "Issues faced and reported by our members have arisen from a decade of severe underfunding of our public hospitals which have failed to keep pace with growing community need, the ageing population and workforce, and increased costs," said NZNO Industrial Services Manager Cee Payne
  • Lack of trust in DHBs is a big issue for nurses
  • The NZNO needed a simple majority to reject the latest pay offer to proceed with the strike
  • While the organisation never release voting statistics, it says this week's vote was closer than last time
  • Nurses have not gone on strike for 30 years

Are all nurses happy with the decision to strike?

What will happen between now and Thursday?

  • This morning the Employment Relations Authority ordered the two parties to meet today in a last ditch effort to avert a strike. The NZNO previously declined the request of the DHBs to head back into facilitation
  • The facilitation meeting will take place today
  • NZNO says the strike will go ahead unless additional funding is put on the table

What will happen during the strike?

  • The 24 hour strike will begin on Thursday at 7am and will finish at 7am Friday
  • The NZNO wants to assure the public that patient and public safety is paramount at all times
  • Life Preserving Services (LPS) agreements are designed to ensure patients are safe and well cared for during a strike
  • In the event of a natural disaster on Thursday, the NZNO said there is a protocol in place to respond appropriately

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs