New Zealand Nurses Organisation media release, 29 July 2022
New Zealand Nurses Organisation Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa (NZNO) delegates at Whangārei Hospital met with their employer today to demand better winter payment incentives.
Within 18 hours, more than 80 percent of affected staff were willing to put their name and position forward in support of the letter of demand, which was presented to the employer at the meeting.
NZNO delegate Rachel Thorn said nursing staff, including health care assistants (HCAs) and other health workers, are worn out from working extra shifts to fill a large number of gaps in the nursing roster.
“This is having a hugely negative effect on our personal wellbeing and family lives, leading to increased sick leave, burnout and resignations. Despite this, we have been working extra hours to keep the department safe for patients and support our colleagues.
“This has been done out of loyalty to our manager and the department but the good will has run out.”
While nursing staff are being offered an incentive payment, the payment being paid to doctors is eight times higher depending on the timing of the extra shifts.
“Nurses are feeling really disrespected. This unequitable offer has left us feeling a deep lack of care or consideration from Te Whatu Ora Health New Zealand. The doctors we’ve spoken to agree and are shocked by the offer. Payments should increase by the same percentage for nursing staff who are just as vital for patient wellbeing,” Ms Thorn said.
She said the employer met with doctors’ unions and negotiated much better winter support packages, including agreements to ensure the wellbeing of doctors working additional shifts, but did not negotiate with nurses or NZNO.
“They just presented the amount to nursing staff without wellbeing support, without enough time to consider the payment and with no negotiation whatsoever. That just confirms to us that we are undervalued and many of us are refusing to take on the stress of extra shifts because it just isn’t worth the personal cost.
“Unfortunately, our management have failed to deal with the staffing crisis and have effectively passed the burden onto the workers. We knew there was a crisis. We knew the winter surge was coming but it is clear that there was no planning, care or consideration for nurses, HCAs or other health care workers.
“We expect our employer to step up and commit to resolving these issues, and one way to do that would be better winter incentive payments, as a short-term solution to these acute staff shortages. We should not be asked to sacrifice our families and our own wellbeing if we are not being valued at work.”
NZNO says it plans to lodge a claim with Te Whatu Ora Health New Zealand next week for significant improvement on the Winter Incentive payments (and for consistent penal rates) across the country for nursing staff.
Media inquiries: Rob Zorn, NZNO Media and Communications Advisor: 027 431 2617.