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Open letter to PM expresses nurses’ disappointment at having to consider further industrial action

New Zealand Nurses Organisation media release, 6 October 2020

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) has today sent an open letter to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern asking why her Government has shown no urgency in helping find the money to provide pay parity for its Primary Health Care members who work in general practices and accident and medical centres.

The letter expresses the frustration felt by these nurses and receptionists/administrators whose year-long fight for pay parity with their colleagues employed in DHBs has included a full day strike on 3 September.

“2020 is the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife,” the letter says, but these workers say they feel disappointed that despite this, and their proven value as the front line response to the global pandemic, their calls have been ignored.

The letter asks the Prime Minister six direct questions that include why a Government with a stated commitment to pay parity cannot find the relatively minor funds to solve the problem, and what it plans to do to resolve the shortage of nurses and support workers that will result because so many are seriously considering leaving the sector for better pay.

At recent stop work meetings NZNO Primary Health Care members overwhelmingly passed a resolution to commence a ballot for further industrial action if additional funding could not urgently be found to allow negotiations to resume.

The letter asks Ms Ardern to understand that members are very frustrated and angry at having to consider further industrial action. It says she has the chance to be leading the Government that, in the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, will recognise the value of nurses and those who work to support them.

“Given the year we have had, what better way of achieving that is there than to urgently resolve this matter; to acknowledge the value of their work; and to show you want them to continue to use their expertise in keeping us healthy?”

In support of the open letter, individual NZNO Primary Health Care members will also be writing to the Prime Minister telling her in their own words what earning less means for them personally and about the extra pressure at work caused by staff recruitment and retention issues.

Read the open letter.


Media inquiries: Rob Zorn, NZNO Media and Communications Advisor: 027 431 2617.

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