Dr David Clark talks about nurses. Video by Marty Melville. SOURCE: The Herald

Health Minister Dr David Clark has responded to DHB nurses rejecting the pay offer by saying the Government has “gone as far as we can” in terms of extra money for a nurses’ pay settlement.

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation announced at 1pm this afternoon that its district health board members had voted, after a year of negotiations and simmering frustration, to strongly reject the 20 district health boards’ third pay offer. Strike action will follow on July 5 unless urgent efforts for mediation by both parties can resolve the dispute.

Clark said he was disappointed that nurses had rejected the offer – “the largest nurses and midwives have been offered since their historic pay jolt 14 years ago under the last Labour-led government”.

He said nurses’ frustration was understandable after feeling undervalued, but “you cannot fix nine years of underfunding in one pay round”. He also said that the Government had to balance pay demands across the public sector.

“We have gone as far as we can in terms of extra government money but hopefully the offer can be reconfigured in a way nurses are happy with.”

“I know that everyone wants to find a settlement. I hope cool heads will prevail and industrial action can be avoided.”

He said he understood contingency plans were well in hand if strike action did go ahead, but urged the DHBs and the NZNO to continue to work together to find a settlement as it was in everyone’s interests that a resolution is found as soon as possible.

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