More than 3,400 primary health workers across more than 500 general practices and accident and medical centres have voted overwhelmingly for further industrial action if there is no resolution that addresses pay parity.
The resolution adopted at the 34 stop work meetings held on Wednesday 30 September reads, "Unless there is additional funding allocated for pay parity enabling negotiations to resume on this basis by 14 October we support a ballot then commencing for further industrial action."
NZNO Primary Health Care (PHC) Industrial Advisor Chris Wilson said this time-frame has been proposed, in good faith, to allow for a resolution without further disruption to Primary Health Care (PHC) services. In the meantime, NZNO is discussing with members what form that industrial action will take if it has to go ahead.
Following a meeting on 24 September between Ministry of Health (MOH) and DHB representatives, the NZMA and Green Cross Health, they put out this key message:
"The Ministry of Health, DHB representatives, the NZMA and Green Cross Health met on 24 September 2020 to gain a common understanding of progress in the Primary Care MECA bargaining. It was a useful and productive meeting during which all meeting attendees gained a better appreciation of the issues, and recognised and agreed on the need for a consistent, sustainable approach to pay parity across the health system. Primary care nurses are seen as a priority workforce for progressing pay parity. Meeting attendees have agreed to work together on this issue, with an initial focus on the Primary Care MECA."
Ms Wilson said that while it was positive to hear there is now a commitment to pay parity in the PHC MECA, particularly after one year of extensive lobbying, this was not evident at negotiations that followed on 28 September. Instead NZNO were informed by the employer parties that matters are still being worked on by the DHB and MOH and that it may take some weeks.
"Our members have said this is simply not good enough. They are not prepared to be fobbed off with a statement like this, particularly when projected costings and extensive information was given to the then Minister of Health a year ago," she said.
"We are constantly hearing about nurses who have changed jobs outside of Primary Health Care and that’s because of the 10.6% pay parity gap not because they are not committed to the PHC sector," she said.
"We can avoid this crisis scenario, but it requires a commitment to an urgent resolution," says Ms Wilson.