More nurses' strikes possible, no more money on the table

David Clark told journalists today there would be no more money for a new deal. Photo: Thomas Coughlan

Health Minister David Clark says there is no more money on the table for nurses after the end of the first day of strike action, having defended his absence in the lead-up to industrial action.

The 24-hour nurses strike finished at 7am on Friday. This was the second of two scheduled strikes, although the first was called off after a revised offer from DHBs.

Lesley Harry, a member of the New Zealand Nurses' Organisation negotiating team, told RNZ further strike action "will likely be necessary" if DHBs refused to provide extra money for a settlement.

The current offer is worth $520 million and was recommended to nurses by the NZNO. It included pay increases of 12.5 to 15.9 percent, to be rolled out over 25 months.

But members of the union rejected the offer after a week-long vote, leading to the strike.

Clark faced criticism for being out of the country during the strike. He said he had been away for 33 hours transporting his family to a holiday, having already cancelled the vacation for himself.

"It's fair to say that largely this has been an operational matter in terms of DHBs and the nurses. Obviously, I'm making comment now I've been back."

Clark said the Government had made it clear there was "no money on the table" to increase the salary package already offered.

He had seen recommendations made by the Employment Relations Authority in its role as a facilitator, but did not want to comment on them.

"Both sides need a chance to reflect on them before they come together. It is time for a pause, it's time to reflect."