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Nurses extremely disappointed at pay freeze announcement

New Zealand Nurses Organisation media release, 5 May 2021

NZNO says health care workers across Aotearoa New Zealand are extremely disappointed following the government’s pay freeze announcement.

Despite being on the frontline for COVID-19, Nurses, midwives, healthcare assistants and kaimahi hauora employed by District Health Boards (DHB) could all be affected by the announcement.

NZNO Industrial Services Manager Glenda Alexander says she is seriously concerned about the impact of the policy on NZNO's work to resolve gender pay issues within nursing and midwifery.

"This announcement could set back our efforts to resolve the longstanding undervaluation of our members’ work, especially regarding pay rates for nurses.

"Three years effectively freezing our payrates would put us backward in closing the gender pay gap between the female-dominated nursing occupation and male-dominated occupations, many of which are in the private sector."

On top of pay equity concerns, NZNO Industrial Advisor David Wait says that the announcement could have significant impacts on the current negotiations as well as staff retention.

"NZNO is in negotiations with DHBs for a new Multi-Employer Collective Agreement (MECA) which affects over 30,000 workers. Our members in DHBs are feeling let down and anxious following the announcement. They’re feeling that this is a huge disrespect given all they have done for the country during the pandemic.

"We keep hearing from members that this is just the thing to push them to move overseas," he said.

"All people in Aotearoa New Zealand should be concerned at the possible impact of the guidance on our ability to attract and retain health workers in our public hospitals and DHB facilities that are already understaffed".

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