There has been much debate and positive anticipation among nurses about the potential of the new Wellbeing Budget and a possible resolution of longstanding ethnic pay inequities.
Nurses, who form the backbone of the health workforce, have been enduring up to 25 per cent pay disparities between those working in Māori providers and those in other parts of the health sector.
“These inequities result from the sustained underfunding of Māori health and limitations in the current funding formula. If we are to fulfil our obligations under te Tiriti o Waitangi we need the Wellbeing Budget to invest in Māori health and Māori nurses in particular,” says New Zealand Nurses’ Organisation President Grant Brookes.
NZNO Kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku says, “Current pay inequities are unacceptable, and continue to put significant pressure on Māori nurses and their whānau. I know of cases where nurses have to get second jobs to cover their household bills. Their colleagues in others sectors simply aren’t experiencing this level of hardship.”
The two NZNO co-leaders have been meeting with political and health sector leadership in the lead-up to the release of the Wellbeing Budget to amplify their call for ethnic pay parity.Grant Brookes says, “Justice lies at the heart of wellbeing; and the forthcoming budget is a chance for the Government to do the right thing and resolve this issue once and for all.”
Kerri Nuku, who is party to the Waitangi Tribunal WAI 2575 health kaupapa claim, says “We have raised the issue of pay inequity at every forum we could in this land and taken it to the United Nations with no satisfactory resolution. If this Budget is truly about wellbeing we need to see greater investment in Māori health and Māori nurses.
“We will continue to work in partnership for ethnic pay parity for all nurses until this issue is resolved.”
Colleagues and supporters around the country are encouraged to contact politicians and health industry leaders asking for increased funding to Māori health and a realignment of the funding formula to recognise the real costs of providing culturally and clinically competent health care for Māori whānau.