Many nurses are expressing disappointment to anger that the DHBs’ 4th offer falls short of meeting fair pay and safe staffing concerns built up over nearly a decade – and are resolute on striking on July 12 to bring home their message. Others are supporting – or resignedly accepting – NZNO’s advice that striking will not boost the offer and voting ‘yes’ means work can begin on safe staffing measures and an additional boost to pay in late 2019 through a promised pay equity settlement.
Online debate over the offer on the main social media pages has been vigorous with likely ‘no’ voters the most prominent. The two ‘Nurse Florence’ founders of the New Zealand, please hear our voice social media movement have gone public that one them is voting ‘no’ and one of them voting ‘yes’ and together have made a call for nurses to stay united and positive whatever the outcome of this week’s ballot.
Online voting began on Tuesday and closes on 5pm on Monday July 9 and in the interim the 20 district health boards’ contingency planning and the filling of rosters for NZNO member LPS (life preserving services) responders for the July 12 strike continues.
Last night NZNO hosted a live Q&A session with Industrial Services Manager Cee Payne to answer questions from members. Below is a brief summary of the session.
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
Q What happens if ‘no’ vote?
Continue preparation for 24 hour strike on July 12. Negotiation team remain open to improving deal if opportunity arises. But highly likely strike would go ahead.
NZNO believes that striking will not lead to extra money for MECA offer as Health Minister had made that clear. If no new deal option arises from strike, a ballot on further strike action may follow.
Q Where is extra value for members in DHBs’ 4thoffer? Why have NZNO recommended it?
July 5 strike called off to allow ballot on what NZNO believed was improved offer – particularly setting date for pay equity settlement. Negotiating team had strong signals that only additional funding would come via pay equity fund – not via MECA funding.
No new money in MECA offer but money has been “shifted” and extra steps for RN/RM basic pay scale delayed to make offer more “equitable”.
But Payne says pay equity settlement date means “definitely going to be new money” in 18 months (December 2019) when implementing a pay equity payout due to begin. Funded from Government’s pay equity funding not from MECA deal funding.
What percentage increase pay equity settlement not known until after negotiations. Payne says NZNO committed to doing timely negotiations and getting an offer out for ratification in 2019.
Q Why not money available for pay equity now?
Payne says NZNO and DHBs have to work within Government budget framework and money had been allocated for a number of pay equity negotiations in 2019. “We need to get on and get our share of it”. Nursing is one of the largest female occupation groups so implementing pay equity would be staged.
Q What pay equity comparators are being considered?
Moved on from teachers and police. Research is now being done looking at accountants, senior accountants, engineers and senior engineers. Plus other occupational groupings being looked at. Previous care and support worker pay equity negotiations were based on ‘basket’ of 20 private and public section occupations and something similar considered for NZNO claim.
Q What guarantees that $38M allocation from July 1 for additional staff will be used to relieve immediate workload issues?
Workplace committees to work with DHBs to highlight areas with immediate staffing needs. The funding for immediate relief is not to replace the additional staffing identified after doing the safe staffing CCDM calculations. DHBs will still need to boost full-time equivalent staff as part of commitment to fully implement CCDM by 2021.
Q What happens on August 1 when MECA will have been expired for over a year?
Under Employment Relations Act once a collective agreement is 12 months on from expiry date technically people are transferred to individual contract with same terms and conditions as MECA. Payne says no indication that employers intend to take advantage of that and so members should not be alarmed by the technical transition.
Q New Step 7 start date is a day after proposed MECA expires? Is it guaranteed?
Payne says though outside of the MECA’s term the new step is legally enshrined into the MECA’s terms of agreement so will go ahead. Progress to new steps are automatic for staff unless there has been formal questions raised about their work performance.