Online voting closes at 5pm on Monday and the decision is expected Tuesday morning on whether the NZNO’s DHB nurses have voted to accept the 4th DHBs offer or strike on Thursday.
After a year of negotiations, multiple ballots and rejigged offers the mood of many nurses on social media is that strike action is needed to bring home the seriousness of the safe staffing and fair pay concerns accrued over more than a decade. Others have accepted NZNO’s advice that striking will not boost the offer and voting ‘yes’ means work can begin on safe staffing measures and an additional boost to pay in late 2019 through a promised pay equity settlement.
With the 20 DHBs and NZNO already undergone urgent mediation and facilitation to reach the 4th offer – and the late withdrawal of the July 5 strike notice – it is considered highly likely that if most members vote ‘no’ then the 24 hour strike on July 12 by NZNO’s DHB nurses, healthcare assistants and midwives will go ahead.
The DHBs – who had contingency plans well underway before the July 5 strike was called off – are stepping up plans again in readiness of the July 12 strike going ahead including postponing non-urgent surgery and outpatient appointments to try and ensure as few non-urgent patients as possible are on the wards prior to the 7am start of the planned 24 hour strike.
Under the Code of Good Faith for the Public Health Sector the DHBs and NZNO have negotiated individual deals with each DHB to roster life-preserving services (LPS) responders during the strike. There are anecdotal reports of some DHBs having negotiated for local NZNO members to provider very high LPS responder numbers and concerns that if rosters can’t be filled than DHBs may get a court injunction to stop the strike.
Volunteers have also been sought by DHBs to help staff wards and the primary care and residential aged care sectors in many regions are also being prepped to treat and support patients in the community.
The DHBs say if the strike goes ahead, people should not delay seeking medical treatment and go to hospital if the matter is urgent. They should dial 111 for emergencies or an ambulance.
For all other matters people should do what they normally do and visit their GP or visit a local pharmacy, and free medical advice is available 24/7 through Healthline (phone 0800 Healthline – 0800 611 116).