Māori nurse pay parity battle continues

August 2016 Vol. 16 (4)

In the latest battle in the pay parity war, the NZNO has presented a number of interventions to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues on behalf of iwi provider nurses and health workers. 

Health and Māori Development ministers have declined to comment on NZNO kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku taking a call for pay equity for iwi provider nurses to the United Nations.

But Te Ururoa Flavell, in his capacity as Māori Party co-leader and not the Minister of Māori Development, said that he “absolutely” supported pay parity for nurses working for Māori and iwi providers.

Nuku, the Māori co-leader of the New Zealand Nurses Organisation, said it was currently waiting for the non-binding UN recommendations after presenting a case to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York in May.

She says the presentation focused on building Māori  workforce capability to better reflect the population it serves and the pay parity “plaguing our Māori and iwi health providers sector”.

The call for pay parity for iwi provider nurses and health workers dates back to 2006 after the NZNO ‘pay jolt’ ratified in 2005 for district health board (DHB) nurses saw the pay gap widen between initially all DHB and non-DHB nurses. A gap then also emerged between Māori-led healthcare organisations and their counterparts employed by PHO-funded general practices because of different funding mechanisms.

An 11,000 strong petition was presented to Parliament in July 2008 backing the pay equity call and a subsequent 2009 Health Select Committee report called for a working group to look into the petition issues but the Government did not adopt the report.

Flavell said in 2012 the Human Rights Commission found that Māori and iwi health workers earned up to 25 per cent less than their colleagues in hospital settings. He said there were a number of contributing reasons for this, including the funding model.

“Our nurses do a wonderful job, whoever employs them, and I would like to see progress towards pay parity,” said Flavell. Asked whether he supported NZNO going to the UN forum, he said he supported using available avenues to get better outcomes for whānau Māori, and highlighting whānau concerns.

“I also encourage the NZNO to continue its discussions with the Minister of Health and the Ministry of Health, as well as providers of health services to whānau. Much can be achieved through this engagement.”

There was no comment from Health Minister Jonathan Coleman in response to Nursing Review queries about the ongoing pay parity issue and Nuku’s approach to the UN forum.

Nuku said the NZNO presented a number of interventions to the forum to help address the issues, including the need for high-quality Māori workforce data collection to allow the sector to better understand the workforce capability nationally. It also asked for a commitment to indigenous health workforce equity, with currently seven percent of the nursing workforce identifying as Māori, compared with just under 15 per cent of the population – and the seven per cent figure had been static since the 1990s. It also sought better approaches to identifying workforce barriers and developing recruitment and retention initiatives. :

See earlier story at http://goo.gl/4Qlw11.

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