New Zealand Nurses Organisation media release, 26 May 2023
Nurses who are members of the New Zealand Nurses Organisation Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa (NZNO), and who work for Te Whatu Ora, will be stopping work for two hours to attend one of 57 meetings being held across the country from 29 May to 2 June.
The meetings are so these nurses, midwives, health care assistants and kaimahi hauora can review the latest offer from Te Whatu Ora and discuss their next steps in the bargaining process.
In bargaining NZNO members have asked for (claimed) a pay rise that matches the rate of inflation (currently 6.7 percent) but Te Whatu Ora’s offer of $4000 this year across all rates and a further 3 percent next year falls well short of this figure.
However, Te Whatu Ora has not at all addressed members’ claims around the significant issue of safe staffing and their wellbeing at work – such as implementing a ratio-based staffing safety net and supporting health and safety representatives at work.
NZNO Chief Executive Paul Goulter said the meetings are expected to be very well-attended by members expressing strong views.
“Members would much rather be at work focussing on their patients but we’re holding these meetings to decide what to do next because Te Whatu Ora’s offer will not help them deliver the levels of care their patients deserve.
“We are at a time when Aotearoa desperately needs nurses and other health workers. Pay and conditions that recognise their value would make nursing more attractive and help keep the nurses we have.
“Right now nurses do not feel safe coming into work and, ultimately, patients will pay the price for hospitals that are continuously understaffed and under-resourced.”
Paid stop work meetings are a right for Te Whatu Ora nurses according to their collective agreement and the Employment Relations Act. Members are entitled to stop work for up to two hours on full pay (if they would ordinarily be working).
Many of the meetings will be held off site, with buses transporting members to the venues. Members leaving workplaces will be carrying banners and demonstrating on their way to the meetings and back again.
Paul Goulter says the meetings will not be about voting on the offer or on industrial action.
“The bargaining team does not think the offer meets member expectations and the meetings are part of our democratic process for receiving member feedback.”
- Around 57 meetings have been arranged at various locations around the country from 29 May to 2 June. A full chart of meetings times and venues is attached. Journalists will not be able to attend the meetings but may wish to interview and photograph/film members arriving at or leaving meetings.
- Knowledgeable local NZNO delegates are available to speak with journalists and tell their stories on request.
- The purpose of the stop work meetings is for NZNO members who work for Te Whatu Ora to review the latest offer from Te Whatu Ora and to discuss next steps in the bargaining process.
- Collective bargaining is a democratic process where, at every stage, members collectively determine the next steps. These meetings are part of that process.
- Members asked for (claimed) a pay offer that matched inflation (currently 6.7 percent).
- The Te Whatu Ora offer is for a $4,000 pay rise this year, followed by either three percent next year, or $2,000, whichever is higher. This falls considerably short of the claim.
- Members have also made claims around significant safe staffing issues and this matter is not addressed at all in the offer from Te Whatu Ora.
- The current collective agreement between NZNO and Te Whatu Ora expired in October 2022 and we have been in bargaining since before that time.
- These meetings are in paid time for members who would ordinarily be working at that time (two hours; one for the meeting and up to one for travel).
- The meetings are not industrial action or a strike. NZNO members are entitled to these meetings under Section 26 of the Employment Relations Act, and clause 21 of their collective agreement.
- The meetings are not for ratification of the offer.
- Members travelling to and from meetings away from their worksite will be demonstrating and waving banners and flags.
- Very high attendance is expected at the meetings.
Media enquiries: Rob Zorn, NZNO Media and Communications Advisor: 027 431 2617 | firstname.lastname@example.org