The nurses’ union negotiating team has stopped short of recommending for and against the substantially improved DHBs’ pay offer on which nurses begin voting next week.

However, it has confirmed that extra pay steps being offered to experienced inpatient registered nurses and midwives  – on top of the planned 3 x 3 per cent pay increases and $2000 lump sum being offered to all NZNO members – will equate to a 15 per cent pay increase over the three-year term, which is about an extra $200 a week by December 2019 for the around 15,000 RNs and RMs currently at the top of the five-step basic pay scale.

Senior nurses, enrolled nurses, healthcare assistants (HCAs) and community nurses and midwives (who already have an eight step pay scale) are being offered 9 per cent over three years and a $2000 lump sum. Nurses on the senior nurse pay scale (which is for nurses appointed to senior roles who usually aren’t eligible for penalty rates and overtime) will also get a one-off 1 per cent increase on ratification of the proposed agreement.

NZNO acknowledged that the offer’s proposed pay equity process would have to ensure that salary steps were also “adjusted” for the senior and community RN/RM, enrolled nurse and HCA pay scales, in order to maintain pay relativity between these members and the 15,000 or so colleagues who would immediately benefit from the proposed additional steps to the RN/RM basic pay scale. It is understood that about 20,000 of NZNO’s nearly 30,000 DHB members are on the RN/RM basic pay scale.

The jury is out on whether after a year of negotiations and simmering frustration that the proposed offer – and the agreement to negotiate a pay equity settlement during the contract’s three-year term, taking into account any future teacher settlement and last year’s $2 billion Care and Support Worker pay equity settlement – will be accepted or rejected by the majority of NZNO’s DHB members.

The week began with the announcement on Monday that the NZNO’s stressed and frustrated DHB members had voted in favour of striking on July 5 and 12 unless a revised offer from the 20 DHBs met their pay and safe staffing concerns.

The DHBs then chose to put its revised offer to the media on Monday afternoon – seeking to put its case for the “significant increase” and the $520m package over three years out to the public and nurses prior to NZNO’s planned Thursday release. This public relations move sparked a backlash from nurses on social media and a media release flurry as the DHBs and NZNO sought to counter each others’ claims and arguments.

Yesterday, as initially planned, the NZNO released its full analysis of the third offer from DHBs since negotiations began a year ago. It also put out a press release confirming that the offer – which they described as “substantially improved” – would be put to the vote by its 29,500 district health board nurse, midwife and healthcare assistant members during meetings being held from June 5 to 15.

The DHBs’ offer was based on the recommendations of the Independent Panel set up to try and help avert a winter strike – including an extra $38 million to immediately boost nursing staff numbers to address safe staffing concerns – but with the addition of two extra pay steps on the basic pay scale targeted at the about 15,000 experienced nurses currently sitting at the top of the five-step scale.

The NZNO analysis said the combination of the three x 3 per cent pay rises being offered to all NZNO staff and the two extra pay steps for experienced registered nurses (RNs) and midwives (RMs) was equivalent to a 15 per cent pay increase over the three-year term and confirmed it would equate to an extra $200 a week at the top of the new RN/RM basic pay scale by December 2019. (See offer details below.)

The DHBs’ spokesperson Helen Mason has said she is optimistic that the DHBs’ third offer would be accepted by NZNO members as the $520m package was “a significant increase” that went beyond the recommendations of the Independent Panel and the DHB’s previous two-year deal offer.

Cee Payne, industrial services manager for NZNO, said the union continued to comply with the good faith bargaining policy by presenting a “substantially improved” DHB offer to its DHB members.

“The revised DHB offer was forged out of the solidarity of NZNO members’ determination to achieve safe staffing levels and in turn, to see patient care improved in all of New Zealand’s public hospitals.

“The NZNO DHB MECA negotiating team did its utmost to ensure member voices were heard and equally nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants have been hugely visible by holding rallies around the country with a clear message that #HealthNeedsNursing.”

Payne said members now need the “space and time” to carefully consider the offer. If the majority of members vote to accept the proposed new agreement, it would be signed and the new pay rates actioned. If the majority of members vote to reject the proposed new agreement, the next step would be issue a strike notice on June 18 for a strike in early July.

Term Expires 31 July 2020
Lump sum payment $2,000 to be paid on ratification (pro-rata for part-time and casuals)
Pay adjustments 4 June 2018 – 3% on all scales
6 August 2018 – 3% on all scales
5 August 2019 – 3% on all scales
Removal of salary step SN1 from the senior nurse and midwife salary scale and a further 1% added to the SN2 to SN8 Senior Nurse wage rates from 4 June 2018
Additional steps RN/M6 – $72,944 introduced 3 December 2018
RN/M7 – $77,386 introduced 2 December 2019
(RN/Ms with over 12 months on RN5 to progress on these dates)
Enrolled Nurses Professional Development Recognition Programme Increase proficient from $2,500 to $3,000, and accomplished from $4,000 to $4,500 at 4 June 2018
On-call allowance Increase from $4.04 to $8.00 (and $6.06 to $10.00 for public holidays) from 4 June 2018
Nursing staffing improvements $750k additional investment in the SSHW Unit to support fast-tracked CCDM Implementation
An immediate 2% investment in additional nursing staff ($38M)
An additional 2 FTE per 600 nursing FTE for CCDM implementation within DHBs ($10M)


NZNO DHB nurses pay scale Current At Dec 2019
New Graduate RN

Enrolled Nurse  (top step)

Health Care Assistants (top step)







RN at top of current 5 step basic pay scale

RN at top of new 7 step basic pay scale

RN on bottom of senior nurse pay scale (Grade 2)







*New graduates have a three year degree

NB: Basic five-step pay scale does not include penal rates for working shifts/weekends. There is also an NZNO/DHB salary scale for nurses appointed to senior nurse and midwife roles (who usually aren’t eligible for penal rates/overtime) that under the latest pay offer would start, at August 2019, at grade 2 (up to just under $80,000) and rise to $109,116 at grade 7 but with a very top pay scale range for a limited number of posts of $115,026 to $126,847.


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