Nurses reject government‘s latest pay offer

Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone.

Nurses have rejected the latest offer with the DHBs, with strikes planned for August and September now back on the table.

Earlier this month, the Nurses Organisation union agreed to consider the government's pay offer, but it was rejected in a ballott which closed early this evening.

The NZNO lifted a notice for a 24-hour strike on 29-30 July so members could consider and vote on an amended offer, but strikes planned for 19 August and 9-10 September will go ahead "unless an acceptable offer is made".

NZNO lead advocate David Wait says while the DHBs have made promising moves on pay, the offer contained "too many ambiguities".

"Members have been clear from the beginning that their safety at work and the safety of their patients is a priority, and that is where they most deserve certainty.

"Better pay will make nursing more attractive, but it is not clear how the DHBs will be held accountable if they do not provide safe staffing. Nurses don't want more vague promises that the problem will be fixed in the future - which is what we have received once again."

Nurses are standing up for the future of their profession and wellbeing of New Zealanders, Wait says.

"This won't happen until the DHBs put accountability systems in place so nurses know things really will change and that their employers will listen when they feel unsafe at work."

The NZNO will continue with negotiation, bargaining and mediation with district health boards, Wait says.

"We want the DHBs to come back with an offer that provides certainty over how safe staffing will be addressed. Members are tired of ambiguity."

Whether or not the strikes will go ahead depended on negotiations, Wait says.

In a statement, Dale Oliff - a spokesperson for the DHBs - says the offer is worth more than $400 million.

She says the DHBs are surprised by the response and are prepared to start new talks this morning

"The package was a significant increase on the last offer with several initiatives to help address workforce shortages and safe staffing, significant increases on base rates, and lump sums totalling $7200.

"Negotiation involves a degree of realism and compromise, DHBs have shown we're prepared to move and I'd urge the NZNO and its members to reconsider their position."

At some point, NZNO has to stop saying "it's not enough", Oliff says.

"Negotiation involves a degree of realism and compromise, DHBs have shown we're prepared to move and I'd urge the NZNO and its members to reconsider their position."

-RNZ.

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