An improved pay offer was confirmed as the highest priority in a survey of district health board nurses held in the lead-up to nurse’s union and employers starting mediation today.
Survey respondents were also found to be divided over what gains the the proposed pay equity process –due to start after the new contract is settled – would deliver and how quickly.
The online survey followed the New Zealand Nurses Organisation’s District Health Board members voting to reject the 20 DHB’s MECA (multi-employer collective agreement) offer with strong social media feedback that many felt the offer fell short of reflecting the skills and increasing workloads of nurses.
The union and employer negotiating teams were starting mediation today with the union not ruling out a vote on industrial action if a deal can’t be reached that members are ready to accept.
In a survey summary to members the NZNO negotiating team said safe staffing was also reiterated as a key issue by members concerned about continuing to work “under-staffed and under pressure”.
Other issues highlighted was that members felt back pay or a lump sum was important (the current agreement expired on July 31 last year), and most members favoured a two year term (the original offer was for a 33 month term).
The initial pay offer included an agreement to start negotiating a pay equity settlement and the survey found that 80 per cent of respondents backed a strategy to have pay parity with medical radiation technologists (MRTs) and allied health professionals. The survey showed members were divided on whether the pay equity could deliver but survey respondents had indicated that a better base scale pay offer could increase their support of the proposed pay equity process.
A petition seeking public support for a better pay offer for district health board nurses had also reached nearly 13,800 signatures as mediation got underway today.