Former NZNO president and a current district health board member Marion Guy told the Bay of Plenty Times that from what she is hearing and reading “the climate is for striking”.
“I think it’s just actually got to the stage now where nurses have said enough is enough,” she said.
Guy, who also sits on the Bay of Plenty District Health Board, is in the unique position of having a foot in both camps.
Speaking solely as a nurse this week, however, she said nurses had not had a decent pay rise for years and that a strike would not just be about being heard.
“Because I think the concern is if they don’t take some sort of action, it will just roll over again.”
She referred to a page on Facebook where New Zealand nurses were sharing their experiences and concerns.
“It’s generated a huge amount of ability, I guess, for nurses to tell their stories and the stories that are being told are ones of overwork, stress, bullying, and working overtime.
“Now I’m not saying that happens here at Bay of Plenty, but it’s a general feeling throughout the country that this is happening.”
Guy said the Bay of Plenty District Health Board was a little bit unique in that it had put a lot of work into safe staffing, creating a positive culture, and trying to get staff to work together better.
“I’m not saying it’s totally right, but as a DHB we’ve put a lot of effort into those areas.”
She said it was the only district health board in New Zealand that was “over the line” in regards to the safe staffing and healthy work places programme.
“I think our DHB is perhaps a little bit different. I’m not saying it’s totally different, it still has its problems, but it’s a lot, lot better than many around the country.”
This week nurses voted to reject the latest pay offer from DHBs around New Zealand and the nurses organisation said strike action was “likely”.
National delegates would meet on April 18 to decide the next steps and bargaining strategies, including any recommendations for industrial action.
Members will then be balloted on whether to strike.
The Bay of Plenty Times approached both the Bay of Plenty District Health Board and the Ministry of Health for comment on Tuesday.
In response, the newspaper was referred to Strategic Workforce Services, which sent a statement on behalf of all DHBs.
It said the health boards had arranged to meet the nurses’ union to discuss ways of settling the current pay talks and avoiding industrial action.
Spokesman Dr Ashley Bloomfield said nurses should not think they had to take industrial action to be heard.
“I think nurses would expect the DHBs and their union to explore all options before considering strike action.
“DHBs are keen to talk to the union about the Prime Minister’s suggestion for an independent panel to help find a solution and prevent disruption to health services.”
He said some time was needed to examine ideas and work through the options.
Dr Bloomfield said DHBs were obliged to start contingency planning to ensure public safety if there was some form of industrial action.
“DHBs are considering possible impacts and have started contingency planning to ensure patient safety in the event that industrial action does take place, although our main focus is on finding ways to settle this agreement.”