News from DHBs
The 20 District Health Boards are disappointed that the Public Service Association has decided to seek a mandate from its members for industrial action in its current bargaining for mental and public health nurses, allied, public health and technical staff, and clerical workers in the South Island and midlands regions.
Graham Dyer, Chair of the District Health Boards’ Employment Relations Strategy Group and Chief Executive of Hutt and Wairarapa DHBs, said that the union was not recognizing the tight fiscal environment that DHBs are in. This sector has been largely insulated from the impacts of the global financial crisis, and has continued to have growth in both wages and numbers of employees. Subsequently the expectations should be tempered as the recovery kicks in. “There remains severe pressure on the economic delivery of world class health services for all New Zealanders.”
Bargaining for the six collective agreements has been ongoing for between 1 and 12 months. “The co-ordinated timing of the action is clearly part of some other agenda” Mr Dyer said.
“DHBs have engaged in good faith with the PSA and have made a number of proposals in each of the sets of negotiations to respond to the issues that the PSA brought to bargaining. Ultimately it is simply about pay.
“DHBs have offered the Nurses and allied staff the same increases that have been accepted by other clinical groups in recent bargaining.
“DHBs do not believe there are any reasons to offer these PSA groups more than the increases that were accepted by similar workforces.
“We’ve offered the PSA Nursing and Allied bargaining a 1.5% salary increase for a term of around two years. That’s the same settlement that’s been accepted by Medical Physicists, Medical Radiation Technologists, Clinical Psychologists and Medical Laboratory Workers amongst others.”
A number of settlements have been reached for non-clinical workforces including those represented by the Service and Food Workers Union, the Engineering, Printing & Manufacturing Union, and FIRST Union that are within the same parameters as the offers being made to the PSA.
Mr Dyer said it is disappointing that the PSA are pursuing possible strike action despite participating in sector-level briefings that clearly set out the financial pressures on DHBs. Current employment arrangements in the DHBs are recognized as more than meeting the PSA’s ‘decent pay, decent workplaces’ standards.
“We’ve been open with the PSA about the financial challenges that the DHBs face and we’ve managed to reach settlements with other unions that acknowledge this reality.”
“It’s unclear what the PSA think they are going to achieve for their members, we all know industrial action doesn’t alter what the DHBs can afford,” said Mr Dyer.
“The DHBs have continued to invest in our workforces during the financial challenges brought on by the global financial crisis and Canterbury Earthquakes. The health sector hasn’t faced the job cuts that have been a feature of many public and private sector responses.
“The DHBs are absolutely focused on patient safety. The public can be assured that DHBs will manage the impact of any action the PSA chooses to take to absolutely minimize its impact on patients and services. We encourage the PSA to get back to the bargaining table as that’s the only place the pay issue will be resolved.”
News from PSA
Nearly 12,000 District Health Board (DHB) workers, members of the Public Service Association (PSA), have overwhelmingly voted in favour of taking industrial action after they were offered only a 0.7% pay increase per year and no movement on other issues including training and professional development.
The health workers are located in every DHB across New Zealand, and include mental and public health nurses; physiotherapists; anaesthetic technicians; dental therapists, administrative staff and a number of other occupational groups.
Richard Wagstaff, PSA National Secretary, said “Health workers are making a stand, together, to say this is not good enough, and they deserve better,”
“The strength of these results, with an average 87.1% in favour of industrial action, shows the seriousness of the funding crisis in the health sector.
“Our members take their duty of care very seriously, it is a huge step for them to even consider taking such strong action.
“DHB staff work hard to keep New Zealanders healthy, but their own wellbeing is put under increasing strain by these insulting offers.
“The DHBs have told us that the Government has indicated there will be even less money on the table next year — a continuation of systemic underfunding of the health system.
“Budget documents say DHBs expect a 17% increase in demand over the ten years to 2021, but they won’t get the funding to match and they’re planning to squeeze it out of staff.
“The Government has plenty of big talk promising wage rises for New Zealanders, but their own workers are being left behind.
“Our members are asking to be fairly recognised for the hard work they put in to keep our health system running – an annual pay rise shouldn’t start with a decimal point,” said Richard Wagstaff.
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