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Home support nurses set to strike

About 150 New Zealand Nurses Organisation Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa (NZNO) workers employed at Access Home Health will strike next Monday following a breakdown in talks with their employer.

NZNO delegate Linda Ewbank said the nurses, who visit and support patients at home, have been in protracted bargaining with Access for more than a year without any inroads, and they have now had enough.

"Members are fed-up. The decision to strike was made because we have reached our wits end.

"For a year we have been patient. Every day our nurses go the extra mile for the people we care for. Now we have no other choice but to put our family’s needs first.

"This strike is really about the workers getting paid a fair wage. Quite frankly we’re asking for a cost-of-living increase, but their offer is not even close to that."

Ms Ewbank said during the year since bargaining had begun the cost of living had risen, and their workload had been expanded.

"We ask that Access continues to support our endeavours and exercise due diligence in negotiating the terms of the Collective Agreement.

"Unless the employer is prepared to take its responsibility of supporting staff properly strike action is our only option."

She said Access nurses provided quality care and needed to be recognised for this, but to retain quality nursing staff, it was important to come to a resolution.

"At this time the company has kept us bound in a lower pay scale with no opportunity to move forward in these negotiations. Unfortunately, there have been roadblocks throughout the entire process.

"We are nurses, we have been trained with the same skills as other nurses, and while we are not working in a theatre or on a ward we are not less of a nurse. The Access Nurses are forward thinking, attuned to the needs of our tangata/clients their families/whānau, living in their community."

Access, originally a not-for-profit business was purchased by the Australian Private Equity Firm Anchorage in 2023. Anchorage had little or no prior experience in the care sector in this country.

"Sadly, our owners don’t seem to understand that Kiwi nurses working in the community are fundamental to keeping patients safe at home.

"To date Access has chosen to blame the Government over a lack of funding without taking seriously the opportunities of additional investment that their new owners should be applying."

The nine-hour strike starts from 8am to 5pm next Monday (15 July). Pickets will take place outside Access offices across the country.

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