Whether the DHBs’ fifth pay offer to NZNO nurses has been ‘tweaked’ enough post-strike to get it over the line will be voted on next week by nurses – early nurse feedback is very mixed.
Nurses’ union NZNO is recommending the revised offer to members saying it has achieved ‘two significant improvements’ including bi-monthly safe staffing updates and reshuffling again the introduction of new basic pay top step ($77,386) from August 2019 to May 2019.
“It is clear to all parties that there is no further additional funding available for this MECA,” NZNO said in an update to members. “The Government has made this clear repeatedly to all parties and publicly. On this basis we believe further strike action is highly unlikely to deliver any further improvements for our members.”
The DHBs’ spokesperson, Jim Green, said the new offer goes further than the confidential Employment Relations Authority (ERA) recommendations or the Independent Panel. Health Minister Dr David Clark, who has taken a strong stand on not increasing funding for the settlement package, encouraged nurses to consider the offer closely and that the Government was committed to ensuring DHBs in particular deliver on safe staffing.
Many frustrated nurses on social media are commenting that there is little change from the rejected fourth offer that they had rejected before striking for 24 hours on July 12. Some are ready to vote yes putting their hopes on pay equity delivering in late 2019, but many posts are from nurses ready to vote ‘no’ saying the tweaked offer continues to fall too short of immediately meeting a decade of simmering safe staffing and pay rate concerns. The July 12 strike was the first nationwide nurses strike since 1989 and the first strike by NZNO public hospital nurses since 2001.
NZNO Associate Industrial Services Manager Glenda Alexander said it was recommending the offer because it retains previously achieved benefits and addresses the ongoing member priorities of greater need for clarity and commitment to safe staffing and also the issue of equity and fairness across the steps.
“As earlier negotiated we have a definite date for implementation of pay Equity,” said Alexander. “The effective date for payment of pay equity will be 31 December 2019. We remain confident that these later pay equity negotiations will deliver further pay increases as of that date.”
The revised fifth offer also included an agreement on a national framework for ‘enforceable mechanisms’ for implementing safe staffing CCDM tools including each DHB providing to nurses a bi-monthly report on its ‘real’ vacancies, safe staffing progress and response to unsafe staffing reports.
Clark encouraged nurses to consider the offer closely. “We know that trust has historically been an issue for nurses who do not feel that DHBs have always held up their end of the bargain. As Health Minister I have been listening to these concerns and can assure the public I will require DHBs to honour their commitments.”
Green said one of the key features of the revised offer was the DHBs’ increased commitment to address the staffing and work issues raised, including using the $38m allocated in the offer to start recruiting additional staff immediately where local NZNO staff say nurses are needed most urgently. The latest offer would also apply from June this year rather than two weeks after ratification.
Green, a former nurse and chief executive of Tairawhiti DHB, and Alexander were the key spokespeople during the negotiation of the major DHB NZNO pay jolt in 2004.
On-line voting on the offer will start from midday Tuesday July 31 and carry on through to 5pm on Monday August 6.
LATEST (5th) OFFER
Change from fourth offer
- Reshuffles again introduction of new salary steps for nurses/midwives on basic pay scale – Step 6 stays at May 2019 and Step 7 is moved from August 2020 (which was just outside of proposed MECA term) to May 2020. Equivalent of 12.5% for those on step 6 in August 2019 and 15.9% on step 7 in May 2020.
- National framework for ‘enforceable mechanisms’ for implementing safe staffing CCDM tools including a bi-monthly report on DHBs response to ‘real’ vacancies’ and safe staffing progress.
Retains from fourth offer
- Retains three year term (expiry July 31 2020)
- Retains funding for safe staffing initiatives. Immediate $38 million for additional 500 nursing staff across 20 DHBs, $10 million for extra DHB nursing staffing for implementing CCDM and extra $750K for SSHW Unit to help ‘fast-track’ CCDM.
- Retains $2000 lump sum, increase to on-call rates and EN PDRP increase
- Retains 3% increase June 2018 + 3% August 2018 + 3% August 2019
- Retains 1% added to senior nurse/midwife pay scale in June 2018
- Adds 3% to top of community nurse/midwife pay scale May 2019 (total pay rises equivalent to 12.6% over term of MECA for nurses on top scale)
- Extra salary step for enrolled nurses May 2019 (equivalent to 3% and 12.5% total increase over term for ENs on new step)
- Extra 3% increases on all grade steps for senior nurses (equivalent to 13.6% over term for senior nurses on top step of each grade)
- Extra salary step for HCAs May 2019 (equivalent to 12.5% over term for those on new step)
- Commitment to implement pay equity negotiation outcomes from December 31 2019.