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Employment Court upholds nurses’ right to strike over health and safety

New Zealand Nurses Organisation media release, 23 May 2023

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa (NZNO) says the absolutely vital right of workers to strike over health and safety matters has been upheld with the Employment Court dismissing a Te Whatu Ora application to stop a one-hour health and safety strike planned by nurses working is Ward 5 at Gisborne Hospital.

However, just as important, says NZNO Chief Executive Paul Goulter, is the moral victory.

“These are exhausted nurses who have given everything they have for their patients for an extended period of time, and they have finally reached breaking point.

“Nurses right across the health system are not currently safe at work and to have denied them the right to strike over health and safety concerns would have been an intolerable injustice.

“These Gisborne nurses have been raising concerns for more than nine months, and, as the judge pointed out during the hearing, Te Whatu Ora had not managed to change anything at all to help them. This is simply not good enough from one of the country’s largest employers.”

NZNO Ward 5 delegate at Gisborne Hospital Christine Warrander said it was bewildering that Te Whatu Ora chose to expend thousands in resources and taxpayer’s money on fighting a one-hour strike, instead of putting those resources towards fixing the significant health and safety problem they have.

“Despite overwhelming evidence of physical and emotional trauma from the affidavits we gave in evidence, Te Whatu Ora still tried to argue that our workplace is safe.

“It simply isn’t safe, and it is our patients’ wellbeing that is most at risk. Things have got to change before something goes seriously goes wrong that ends a nurse’s career and has lifelong consequences for people.”

The one-hour health and safety strike will go ahead from 1.30-2.30pm tomorrow (24 May 2023). Ward 5 staff will leave the hospital, to demonstrated support by their health worker colleagues (including nurses and other health workers from other wards) to join a rally directly across the road from the Gisborne Hospital.

There will be speakers at the rally, which will also be attended by community supporters, other NZNO members and other unions.

Media and the public are welcome to attend.


Media enquiries: Rob Zorn, NZNO Media and Communications Advisor: 027 431 2617 |

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Rob Zorn
027 431 2617  |  04 494 8242

Samesh Mohanlall
021 240 3420  |  04 494 6839

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