5. Nurses voting on new pay deal

Health Minister David Clark. Photo: Lynn Grieveson

Voting on a new pay deal for nurses will begin on Tuesday and run until next Monday. The New Zealand Nurses Organisation has recommended to its members that they accept the deal.

A strike for July 5 has been called off while organisation members consider the offer. A second strike for Thursday 12 July is still planned.

It is understood that DHBs have not put up any extra funding for the offer. Health Minister David Clark had said the previous $520 million offer was the extent of what the Government could offer, however how that funding was allocated could be changed through mediation.

Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters said that the offer was the same, “with a small variation depending on the issue of timing”.

“It’s extremely small as against the half a billion put into the pay packet we’re talking about,” he said.

Peters said this would mean a small amount of money less now with an increase later.

“There’s a peculiarity where it’s less at this point in time by that amount and more by that same amount at a different point in time so it roughly evens itself out, but I suppose if you look at it over a six or seven year period into the future it will be marginally a little bit more,” Peters said.

He said this extra spending was specifically to do with promotion and pay.

Previous offer

The previous offer offered nurses a nine percent increase in pay across all scales over 15 months on top of a $2000 lump sum payment.

But critics argue the benefits of the offer were concentrated at the top of the scale with two new pay bands created, which would have taken nurses in the band to a base salary of $77,386.

This was done with a view to increase retention and bring nurses’ pay into line with teachers, who start at similar levels of pay but have top pay about $10,000 higher.

Staffing levels would also be increased by two percent.

But nurses had raised concerns about improving wages at the bottom end of the scale.