As expected nurses have rejected the 20 district health boards revised pay offer and are now readying for a week of national action starting April 9 and deciding whether strike action will follow.

Cee Payne, the New Zealand Nurses Organisation industrial services manager, in announcing the outcome of the vote just after 2pm today, said that NZNO remains open to meaningful discussion with the DHB employer negotiating team. It also announced a national action week starting April 9 as part of the #HealthNeedsNursing campaign it is launching today along with a website: (

The rejected offer – a 2 per cent pay rise per year over two years with the carrot of a possible pay equity settlement starting on July next year for the 27,000 nurses, midwives and health care assistants covered by the NZNO DHB collective agreement – was voted on during a series of ratification meetings.

The pay offer would have brought new graduate nurses salary up to $51,447 in 2018 – more than the current opening salary for a primary or secondary school teacher but less than a new graduate police constable ($63,000) or a new graduate nurse in Queensland who receives $67,295.  (See salary comparisons below).

Many nurses have taken to social media in recent weeks to voice their frustration with the DHBs’ offer including many of them showing readiness to take the first national strike action in nearly 30 years.  But the earliest that any industrial action – including a strike – could take place is at least eight weeks away.

Payne said members in DHBS were under huge pressure and feeling undervalued but industrial action would be a last resort in event it could not agree a settlement with the DHBs.

NZNO staff and DHB national delegates are meeting on April 18 to discuss to discuss bargaining strategies including whether to proceed with a ballot on industrial action and, if so, what form of action.  Payne said last week the earliest a strike or industrial action ballot could go out to members was probably at least four weeks away and around a further four weeks would be required to allow NZNO DHB members the opportunity to cast their vote.

The “#HealthNeedsNursing”  campaign, Payne said, was a call once again to pay nursing and midwifery teams fairly, to ensure safe patient care and to ensure the right infrastructure is in place for public healthcare.

NZNO DHB nurses pay scale CurrentPay Offer
(from Aug 2018)
New graduate registered nurse* (RN) $49,449$51,447
RN at top of 5 step basic pay scale $66,755$69,452

*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 starts at $70,871 up to around $99,000 but with a very top pay scale range for a limited number of posts of $100,000 to $115,000.

Queensland nurses pay scale  
New graduate RN $67,295
RN at top of 7 step basic pay scale$86,316

NZ Police 
New graduate police constable*$56,106
($62,791 total remuneration for first year plus on average $6,500 additional allowances/overtime)
Five years after graduation$61,228
($68,435 average remuneration – excluding allowances and overtime)

*Following 16 week training programme

NZ Secondary School Teacher 
New graduate teacher $47,000
Top of 10 step basic pay scale $78,000

NZ Primary School Teacher 
New graduate teacher (3 year degree)  $43,745
Top of 12 step basic pay scale      $75,949

Key components of rejected NZNO DHB pay offer :

  • reducing the initial’s pay offer’s proposed MECA term from 33 months down to two years (from 1 August 2017 to July 31 2019)
  • a 2% pay offer on 6 November 2017 and 2% on August 6 2018
  • additional percentage increases for designated senior nurses and midwives of 4% from 6 November 2017 and 2% from 6 August 2018. (Same as previous offer)
  • an increased lump sum offer of $1050 (up from previous offer of $350) to be paid “as soon as possible” following ratification
  • tighter requirements for implementing safe staffing Care Capacity Demand Management (CCDM) tools with a date set for all DHBs to implement CCDM by 2021 and for all DHBs to have an implementation within six months of ratifying MECA. CCDM reporting requirements now enforceable under proposed MECA
  • a commitment to start a pay equity process as soon as possible following MECA ratification and an agreement that any pay equity settlement would apply from July 1 2019 (revised offer sets date for first time).


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