Up to 39 senior doctors who process complex ACC claims will be walking off the job around the country tomorrow after pay negotiations stalled over a redundancy deal and well-being claim.
The first four hour rolling stoppage by the ACC members of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS) will kick off at 8am and is believed to the second only time senior doctors in New Zealand have taken strike action.
Lloyd Woods, a Senior Industrial Officer for ASMS, said the ACC medical advisors had had a “gutsful of their employer’s cavalier approach” to pay, conditions and well-being. The rolling stoppages are due to continue for four hours, for one day a week, for five weeks starting from tomorrow. ACC said it has put in place contingency plans to minimise disruption of services to clients while the strike goes ahead.
In the lead-up to the planned stoppage ASMS and ACC had been in talks for for eight months over the agreement, which expired at the end of 2017. Lloyd said it was very disappointed that ACC had not come back to ASMS which had proposed three options of varying lengths with the shortest length dropping a 1 per cent per year salary increase to focus on the two other major planks of its claim – an improved redundancy deal and the insertion of a well-being statement into their contract.
ACC in May announced a restructuring proposal to cut the medical advisory team from 36.4 full-time equivalents (FTE) to 30 while increasing the numbers of non-medical clinical advisors. A spokesperson said earlier this month that ACC was still considering consultation feedback and was aiming to respond to staff for the end of July.
Woods said the union’s redundancy claim pre-dated the restructuring announcement and they were seeking for the ACC ASMS agreement to match the current PSA ACC collective agreement offer which was a ‘5 + 2.5’ deal.
ACC said earlier this month that ASMS staff were seeking pay rises and redundancy provisions “over and above those offered to other ACC employees”. Woods said that was a “mischievous” statement by ACC as there were about 800 employees currently covered by the same redundancy formula as ASMS were seeking. He said two of the options on the table did include a one per cent pay rise a year but this was very minimal. ACC said today that it ‘agreed to disagree’ over its statement over the redundancy package and “we stand by what we believe”.
“They’re not exactly asking for the moon and the stars,” says Mr Woods. “These claims are very restrained and reasonable, and they’re gobsmacked that ACC is acting as if they’ve asked for gold-plated desks and dancing unicorns.
“ACC is a government organisation with the express purpose of promoting prevention, care and recovery – yet they won’t include a statement on well-being in an employment agreement for a small group of their employees.”
Health Central has approached ACC for comment on tomorrow’s planned stoppage.