he New Zealand Nurses Organisation and District Health Boards will go into Employment Relations Authority-facilitated bargaining after the nurses' union rejected a second pay offer from the DHBs this morning.
The nurses are now set to strike on Thursday, their first in 30 years. However, some staff have agreed to provide life-preserving services during the strike. Further action will happen if additional funding isn't made available following the strike, NZNO said.
Voting on the offer closed last night, and this morning NZNO announced the majority of its members have rejected the offer, though they would not give a percentage breakdown of voting. Industrial services manager Cee Payne said the DHBs had yesterday asked to go into facilitation, and while the union was not convinced it would provide a resolution the authority had directed them into facilitation this morning. The ERA has proposed talks begin after lunch today, she said.
Facilitation is used when collective bargaining breaks down, with the ERA stepping in to help resolve issues. The authority can make recommendations at the end of the process which it may choose to make public and, while parties don't have to follow those recommendations, they must consider them in good faith. The nurses can continue to strike while facilitation is ongoing.
Payne said it wasn't that the union doesn't have faith in facilitation, but "if there isn't additional money available, we don't believe that will provide a solution to issues our members are raising that would encourage them to vote in favour of any deal."
Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters has said there was an "extremely small" difference in the latest offer from the previous $520 million offer. When that first offer was made, Health Minister David Clark said it was the extent of what the government could offer.