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Nurses reject latest DHB offer for failing to address safe staffing

New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) media release, 29 July 2021

NZNO members who work in district health boards (DHBs) have voted by clear majority to reject the latest offer in their negotiations with the DHBs, saying it fails to address the chronic and systemic safe staffing issues in a way that would ensure and protect the future of the health system.

The ballot closed at 5pm this afternoon.

Lead Advocate David Wait said that, while the DHBs had made promising moves on pay, the offer contained too many ambiguities.

“Members have been clear from the beginning that their safety at work and the safety of their patients is a priority, and that is where they most deserve certainty.

“Better pay will make nursing more attractive, but it is not clear how the DHBs will be held accountable if they do not provide safe staffing. Nurses don’t want more vague promises that the problem will be fixed in the future – which is what we have received once again.

“For decades nurses, health care assistants, midwives and kaimahi hauora have been given these promises and things are now worse than ever, everywhere.”

He said nurses were making a stand for the long-term future of their profession and the wellbeing of people living in Aotearoa New Zealand.

“This won’t happen until the DHBs put accountability systems in place so nurses know things really will change and that their employers will listen when they feel unsafe at work.”

Wait said that, while a commitment to finalising Pay Equity by 30 November was appreciated, members are being asked again to trust in an outcome that remains uncertain at this point.

“This is just one more uncertainty an area where commitments to have the matter ‘sorted by a certain date’ have consistently not been met. The effective pay equity end date remains 31 December 2019, but the process has taken much longer, so it’s not surprising members’ trust has been worn thin.”

He also said NZNO was committed to carrying on with bargaining and continuing with negotiation and mediation. He said he expected the DHBs to do the same.

“We want the DHBs to come back with an offer that provides certainty over how safe staffing will be addressed. Members are tired of ambiguity.”

NZNO lifted a notice for a 24-hour strike on 29-30 July so members could consider and vote on an amended offer. However, given the outcome of the ratification ballot, he said strikes planned for 19 August (8 hours) and 9-10 September (24 hours) will go ahead unless an acceptable offer is made.

“Whether or not they happen will depend on our continued negotiations, which NZNO remains committed to.”

NZNO has more than 52,000 members; around 32,000 work for DHBs.


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

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