Topic: Health

Midwive's protest descends on Parliament

  • Wellington

Midwives were let down by the Health Minister today who did not show face as union members gathered at Parliament in protest for a fair pay deal. Today Chief Executives from District Health Boards (DHB) across the country will decide on a proposal that will need approval from cabinet.

MERAS Union Co-leader Jill Ovens says, "I'm very disappointed actually. I would have liked him to have heard directly from the midwives cause at the end of the day the decision on the proposal that was put to us during the facilitation does need to be funded by himself."

Protesters were meet by Labour's Willow-Jean Prime and Marja Lubeck alongside Green MPs Chloe Swarbrick, Marama Davidson, Gareth Hughes, and National's health spokesperson Michael Woodhouse.

Prime says, "He had another engagement, I know this because I did ask if he was going to be here and if not then I would meet them on his behalf."

"Both him and Associate Health Minister Julie Anne Genter are aware of the issues."

Woodhouse says, "What they're asking for is to be treated fairly. Fortunately, the Minister of Health says he's listening. They don't want him to listen, they want him to act."

Last year midwives were offered the same settlement as nurses by DHBs. What Ovens says undermines their autonomy as a negotiating body with a different set of skills.

"It's not that we're dissing the nurses. They negotiated on behalf of their members, by far the majority who are nurses or health care assistants. We want to negotiate on behalf of the majority of midwives who belong to our union," Jill Oven says.

Midwives say New Zealand faces a major crisis if a deal is not settled urgently.

Wellington Coast and Capital midwife Ngarangi Pritchard says, "$23 or $32, that's not enough, especially with the rise of living costs. Lots of people are leaving the profession, lots are going to Australia where the funding is much better, I have been to Australia so I know what it's like."

Mother-of-six Katrina Rehu is in the final year of her midwifery degree at Otago Polytechnic but fears there will be no jobs to go to when she graduates in December.

"My plan is to go out and practice out in the community but if there are no jobs and there's not enough pay it makes it really difficult for me to be able to support my whānau."

The next step will be approval from Cabinet if DHBs come to a settlement.