Mediation attempts to avert the July 5 nurses’ strike are to resume on Monday with the district health boards working over the weekend on a response to the nurses’ union claims.
The NZNO and 20 DHBs issued a joint statement soon after 3pm this afternoon to say that the first day of mediation in Wellington had adjourned for the day.
Also in Wellington today, the Health Minister Dr David Clark announced the settlement of a back-paid pay deal to extend last year’s historic Care and Support Pay Equity Settlement agreement to include up to 5000 community mental health and addiction support workers.
The nurses’ dispute mediation follows the NZNO announcing on Monday that its about 29,000 nurse, midwife and healthcare assistant DHB members had voted to reject the DHBs’ third offer and the issuing of a strike notice on Wednesday for a 24-hour strike on July 5. (A follow-up notice is due to be delivered on June 27 for a second 24-hour strike on July 12.)
Both sides have said that are focused on trying to reach a settlement and will not be commenting until the mediation has concluded. Prior to mediation NZNO’s industrial advisor Cee Payne said that if mediation leads to a new offer that NZNO believes could meet frustrated nurses’ safe staffing and pay concerns, there is a window open for a special online ratification ballot prior to the first strike date.
DHBs have stepped up contingency plans ready to notify patients of deferment of elective surgery and other non-urgent appointments in the lead-up and immediately after the planned first national nurses’ strike in nearly 30 years.
The Government has said there is no extra money to boost the more than $500m over three years offer made to the nearly 30,000 NZNO DHB members.
David Clark said today that $173.5 million over five years settlement offer made to the up to 5000 mental health support workers would be paid by an increase to Vote Health. The Budget in May included a ‘tagged contingencies’ fund of $46 million for 2017-18 to cover wage negotiations in process – including pay equity claims and district health board nurses and allied health pay negotiations. A further $360 million was tagged for 2018-19.
The DHBs/NZNO Nursing and Midwifery Multi-Employer Collective Agreement (MECA) expired on July 31 last year.