Wellington Scoop

Nurses accept new improved pay offer from hospitals

News from NZNO
The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) says its more than 32,000 members who work in district health boards (DHBS) have accepted their latest employer offer, with 83 percent voting yes. Voting closed at 12 Noon today.

Lead Advocate and Industrial Adviser David Wait said he is really pleased that the DHBs took the advice of the Employment Relations Authority after mediation last month and finally put forward an offer acceptable to NZNO DHB members.

“We have been in negotiations for 15 months, so it is great to receive something that both addresses pay issues and makes important progress towards safe staffing.

“Most of the pay increase comes in the form of down payments on our Pay Equity settlement, a separate process due for completion by the end of November, but the early lump sum payments are substantial.

“We also have a DHB contractual obligation to safe staffing, with a legally enforceable escalation pathway when members’ concerns aren’t addressed. Together with new employment commitments these are steps towards addressing the staffing crisis and making nursing an attractive profession again.”

Wait said he was extremely proud of the way members had engaged with this campaign for better wages and conditions – how they’d stuck it out and managed consistently to come to a consensus over many months.

“There is still a lot to do as we work with the DHBs to implement the changes, and members remain wary of their employers’ promises, so the DHBs have a real opportunity here to begin regaining the trust of their employees.

“How the DHBs respond regarding safe staffing over the next year will play a big role in our next collective agreement negotiations, so I encourage them to take this opportunity to do that.”

Today’s ratified MECA applies to the period 1 August 2020 to 31 October 2022. NZNO will next initiate bargaining late next year.

News from DHBs
District Health Boards and the New Zealand Nurses Organisation have reached an agreement that will see improvements to pay and working conditions for nurses working for the DHBs in hospitals and the community.

“The agreed settlement will provide increased pay and safe staffing initiatives worth more than $400 million,” DHB spokesperson Dale Oliff says. “This is tremendous news for all those involved and testament to the hard work of the representatives from the teams involved.”

The agreement follows an Employment Relations Authority hearing in August and months of negotiations between the parties after the expiry of their multi-employer collective agreement (MECA) in July 2020.

The MECA covers Nurse Practitioners, Senior Nurses, Registered Nurses, and Enrolled Nurses, Registered and Senior Midwives, and Health Care Assistants who are NZNO members employed by DHBs.

Last month, DHBs presented NZNO with a settlement that included the same pay offer accepted by PSA Nursing MECAs (Auckland and Rest of NZ) and the MERAS Midwifery MECA. The agreed settlement addresses NZNO’s concerns around safe staffing and includes several initiatives to help address workforce shortages and significant pay increases,” Ms Oliff says.

DHBs have brought forward a pay equity payment, resulting in a package over $400 million and will now work on settling the outstanding pay equity claim for nurses from NZNO and the PSA .

Ms Oliff says DHBs have invested almost a billion dollars over three years to address pay and workforce issues, while the nursing workforce has increased by more than 3,000 over the same period.

She said health workers are held in high regard and continue to play a critical role in the country’s COVID-19 response.

“Nurses are integral to the nation’s wellbeing and this settlement reflects the importance of their roles.”