NZNO recommends nurses take revised DHB offer following strike

Nurses picket line outside Wellington Hospital on day of nurses' strike action. Photo: Lynn Grieveson

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation's negotiating team is recommending its members accept a further revised offer from District Health Boards, following a strike earlier this month.

The NZNO and DHBs have been in Employment Relations Authority-facilitated bargaining since the strike on July 12, when NZNO members rejected the previous offer after the union recommended it. This afternoon, the new offer was announced and NZNO is encouraging its members to accept it, saying it "expands on the consistency members have asked for across the MECA (multi-employer collective agreement) for all steps."

Online voting will open from midday Tuesday, July 31st, and close at 5pm the following Monday, August 6th.

The offer includes $38 million for staff recruitment, which is not new money. However, DHBs have agreed on clearer monitoring and reporting mechanisms on progress in that recruitment to NZNO members, as well as reporting to government.

"It is agreed that bi-monthly updates about safe staffing and the implementation of Care Capacity and Demand Management (CCDM) will be provided to ensure transparency for the nursing and midwifery teams. Nurses will be able to monitor CCDM progress and safe staffing levels," NZNO associate industrial services manager Glenda Alexander said.

Another key aspect of the offer is bringing forward the implementation of step 7 - the top step of the pay scale - for registered nurses and registered midwives by about four months, to May 4th 2020. Pay equity will be implemented from Dec. 31, 2019, as previously negotiated, and Alexander said the union "remain[s] confident that these later pay equity negotiations will deliver further pay increases as of that date."

The offer means changes would apply retrospectively, from June this year, instead of from a fortnight after ratification. DHB spokesperson Jim Green said the ERA had made recommendations in negotiations, but the offer on the table "goes further than either the ERA or the Independent Panel suggested". Those recommendations won't be released until an agreement has been ratified, he said.

"The new offer will now be put to nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants through online voting and I very much hope they will consider it favourably,” Green said.