Topics: Employment, Health, Politics

30,000 nurses and healthcare workers to strike Thursday

By Jessica Tyson

Nurses and healthcare workers have rejected the latest pay offer from District Health Boards (DHBs).  The proposed 24-hour strike will now likely go ahead.  

The final decision has been made and around 30,000 nurses and healthcare workers are set to strike for 24 hours on Thursday.

During a press conference today, members of the New Zealand Nurses Organisation announced that they had rejected the latest pay offer from DHBs.

The strike action will be in the form of a complete withdrawal of labour around the country for 24 hours from 7am on July 12.

Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters says the "government is naturally very, very disappointed." 

"That's because we approached the negotiations in a positive way.  The government doubled the offer from its opening position. In addition to a pay increase, the office sought to address staffing issues by adding 500 extra nurses, recognising the experience of longer serving nurses by adding two extra steps to their pay scale and by bringing forward pay equity discussions."

Industrial services manager Cee Payne says plans are in place to ensure patient safety during the strike.

“We will continue with our best endeavours to ensure that each DHB has a life-preserving services plan for immediate patient safety and an emergency management plan in the event of a significant disaster.”

Payne says the issues faced by members have arisen from a decade of severe underfunding of public hospitals which have failed to keep pace with growing community need, the ageing population and workforce, and increased costs.

“Our message to members at this time is one of unity around the decision made by the majority of members who voted in the ratification ballot.  Let us journey together in the health and well-being of the people of Aotearoa.”

The emergency department at Wellington Regional Hospital will remain open throughout the strike.