More than 1100 DHB-employed midwives have voted overwhelmingly to reject the DHBs’ pay offer and go on strike.

Eighty per cent of midwives’ union MERAS members employed by all 20 DHBs cast their votes.

Of these, 90 per cent voted to reject the DHBs’ offer and for strike action.

Midwives will be giving notice from tomorrow of two-hour work stoppages every day on every shift over a two-week period – effective 22 November to 5 December.

MERAS industrial co-leader Jill Ovens said they wanted to maximise disruption for the DHBs while minimising the effect on women and their babies. The strike comes after a year of negotiations.

Members have rejected the pay offer from the DHBs because they were refusing to recognise midwives’ skills and responsibilities by offering them the same pay scale as midwives, she said.

The union wanted a further percentage to recognise the difference and a retention allowance to address the pressing midwifery shortage.

“They [midwives] have a high level of responsibility, study for a four-year direct-entry degree, and their scope of practice includes a high level of clinical decision-making,” Owens said.

“The DHBs and Ministry of Health know urgent action is needed to address the midwifery shortage and midwives’ work-related stress.”

National Representatives Council chair Kelly McConville said the vote to strike reflected concerns midwives had about their working conditions and that they are not acknowledged in their scope of practice.

“It shows how we’ve been working at crisis point for a long time now.”

Source: NZ Herald

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