The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) has today issued strike notices to the country’s district health boards (DHBs) after its 30,000 members who work in DHBs voted in favour of an eight-hour nationwide strike on 19 August.
The notice is for the second of three planned strikes and comes after members voted by clear majority to reject the latest DHB offer on the grounds that if fails to set out clearly how safe staffing will be addressed and how the DHBs will be held accountable for it.
Lead Advocate and NZNO Industrial Advisor David Wait said members are taking a stand for the future of the nursing profession which is in a state of chronic crisis because nurses work in unsafe environments every day and cannot adequately care for their patients.
"Let’s be really clear. This is about the standard of care you and I receive when we go to hospital, and it is about making sure nursing is a job people want to do. We need to be sure nurses will be there when we need them in the future - and we will need them!
"Nurses, midwives, health care assistants and kaimahi hauora have been working under horrific and unsafe staffing conditions for a long time, made much worse by the pandemic and RSV, and they are genuinely worried about the future of nursing in Aotearoa New Zealand.
"Nurses are leaving the profession or are moving overseas where wages and conditions are often so much better and we must achieve better and safer working conditions to help prevent that."
He said the latest offer is completely unclear about how the DHBs will be held accountable if they do not provide safe staffing and just repeats the same old vague promises that the problem will be fixed at some point in the future.
"Nurses are fed up after years of such promises and have no trust or confidence that the situation will improve on the basis of what has been offered around safe staffing guarantees.
"It’s just not good enough, and the stakes are too high not to take such a stand."
However, he said NZNO was eager to get back into talks so strike action could be avoided.
"We invited the DHBs to continue urgently with the negotiation/mediation process through this weekend past. But were advised they are not available to meet until this coming Thursday (5 August).
"This delay on the part of the DHBs is regrettable, especially with impending strike action."
He said the DHBs and Government need to come up with an offer that doesn’t just recognise the contribution of nurses through pay, but one that also assures them the future of nursing is secure.
The nationwide strike will take place on 19 August from 11am-7pm. MIQ and border workers will be exempt and life preserving services will be provided in negotiation with the DHBs.