Minister disappointed nurses reject half-billion dollar offer
Health Minister Dr David Clark says he is disappointed that nurses have voted against the District Health Boards’ half-billion dollar offer, the largest made to nurses in more than a decade.
“Nurses are a vital part of our health workforce and clearly feel they have been undervalued over the last nine years. Their frustration is understandable. This offer goes a long way to address their pay and staffing concerns, but you cannot fix nine years of underfunding in one pay round.
“The deal that’s been rejected today is the largest nurses and midwives have been offered since their historic pay jolt 14 years ago under the last Labour-led government.
“The proposal added an extra two steps for the longest-serving and most experienced nurses and would see most full-time registered nurses earning an extra $10,000 a year within 18 months. That is a far better deal than that offered under National.
“It also included funding for around 500 more nursing staff to address specific safety concerns. That is a significant move – and one we are committed to. The $38-million funding for that is ring-fenced.
“This offer addresses the unique circumstances faced by nurses in the public sector, namely their limited pay scale and safe staffing issues.
“However the Government has 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.
“It’s important to stress that both DHBs and the Nurses Organisation are absolutely committed to patient safety during any industrial action. As you would expect, DHBs have been planning for the possibility of industrial action and everything will be done to ensure safety remains the top priority. I am advised that contingency plans are well in hand.
“In the meantime I urge the DHBs and the NZNO to continue to work together to find a settlement – it is in everyone’s interests that a resolution is found as soon as possible,” says David Clark.