Nursing Review recaps the 12 months of NZNO DHB negotiations – and comparison of all offers to date – as nurses weigh up the costs and benefits of accepting or rejecting the DHBs’ 4th offer.

JUNE 2017       Pay equity claim/negotiations begin

NZNO announces it is tabling a pay equity claim on behalf of its DHB-employed nurse, midwife and healthcare assistant members as negotiations begin for new MECA (multi-employer collective agreement) with safe staffing – particularly implementing CCDM to ensure nursing numbers reflect workload – and a decent pay rise top of agenda.

JULY 31 2017   DHB NZNO MECA expires

OCTOBER 18 2017  1st deal struck

First DHB deal struck, details released November 15 and ratification underway from November 20.

OCTOBER 19 2017  New Government

Labour coalition Government formed following September 23 election.


  • Backdated 2 per cent pay increase to November 2017 + 2% in Aug 2018 and 2% Aug 2019
  • Backdated 4 per cent pay increase for seniors nurses and midwives + the 2 x 2% increases
  • $350 lump sum
  • Full implementation of CCDM by June 30 2021
  • On-call rate increased from $4.06 to $8 an hour
  • Agreement in principle for pay equity negotiations to start February but no date for settlement
  • 33 month term

DECEMBER 13 2017  1st offer rejected

Ratification ballot rejects first offer in biggest voter turnout in a decade and after strong social media feedback that offer was ‘too little too late’ in meeting built-up pay and safe staffing concerns. NZNO petition launch and online  member survey follows.


JANUARY 24  Minister comments

Health Minister David Clark tells Nursing Review he understand nurses’ and other health workers’ hopes for better salaries under the new Government, but the reality is that “not everyone’s expectations will be met”.

JANUARY 31   1st mediation starts

Mediation gets underway between DHBs and NZNO. Online survey shows improved pay offer highest priority, members wary of pay equity process and safe staffing remains high priority.

FEBRUARY 22   Petition

15,000 signature NZNO petition presented to the DHBs in support of better pay deal.

FEBRUARY 28   2ndoffer made

Second DHB offer made following several DHB meetings with Minister of Health. NZNO confirms that vote on industrial action could follow if members reject latest offer as not meeting pay and safe staffing concerns.


  • MECA term reduced from 33 months down to two years (from 1 August 2017 to July 31 2019)
  • A 2% pay offer backdated to 6 November 2017 and 2% on August 6 2018
  • Senior nurses and midwives get 4% backdated to 6 November 2017 and 2% from 6 August 2018.
  • Lump sum increased to $1050 (pro-rata) to be paid “as soon as possible” following ratification
  • Retains full implementation date of safe staffing CCDM system by June 30 2021
  • Brings forward commitment to start pay equity process as soon as possible following MECA ratification
  • Agreement that any pay equity settlement would apply from July 1 2019 (offer sets date for first time).

MARCH 4   ‘Nurse Florence’ founded

Two strangers form ‘Nurse Florence’ and launch New Zealand, please hear our voice Facebook page to give a platform for nurses to share their stories and build public support during campaign – has 45,000 members in just weeks.

MARCH 26   2nd Offer Rejected

Second offer rejected following ratification meetings. NZNO launches #HealthNeedsNursing campaign including series of national protest rallies across the country. DHBs start strike contingency planning. Delegates to meet in April to discuss strike ballot.

MARCH 27 2018   Panel call

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern calls for independent panel to try and resolve dispute and avert possible strike action. Panel membership announced on April 13.

APRIL 20 2018  Strike ballot announced

On April 20 – in midst of national rally campaign – NZNO confirms online strike ballot for two 24 hour strikes on July 5 and 12 in case panel offer doesn’t meet members pay and safe staffing concerns.

MAY 12 2018    Marches

International Nurses Day marked by 15 ‘Nurse Florence’ marches and rallies across the country.  Earlier in the week Jacinda Ardern along with Finance Minister and Health Minister meet NZNO delegation on parliament forecourt making last push for extra funding before Budget 

MAY 17 2018    Budget

Budget sets up ‘tagged contingencies’ fund for financially sensitive areas including state sector pay negotiations. Extra $46 million for 2017-18 and $360m for 2018-19

MAY 24  Panel recommendations

Panel recommends 3 x 3% pay increases, doubled lump sum payment, pay equity settlement within three year term, extra funding to boost nursing numbers and commitment to implementing CCDM safe staffing.  NZNO and social media feedback that DHBs’ final offer will need to do more.

MAY 28  Strike ballot results/DHBs’ 3rd offer made

Day starts with NZNO confirming nurses voted to strike on July 5 and 12 unless ratify new offer. In afternoon DHBs cause widespread anger amongst NZNO members by announcing details of 3rd offer to media first. DHBs optimistic that offer – boosted to extra $520 million over three years – will meet staff concerns.


  • Largely based on panel recommendations
  • Length of MECA back to 3 year term (expiring July 31 2020)
  • Increases lump sum to $2000 (pro-rata) in lieu of backpay. (Equivalent to 3% of top of RN basic pay scale salary.)
  • 3% increase June 2018 + 3% August 2018 + 3% August 2019
  • Further 1% added to senior nurse pay scale in June 2018
  • Retains on-call allowance improvements of previous offers up from $4 to $8 and improved PDRP payments for enrolled nurses
  • NEW – two new additional pay steps for majority of registered nurses (about 15,000) on top of RN basic pay scale – step 6 $ (72,944) introduced December 2018 and step 7 ($77,386) December 2019. Offer equivalent to 15.9% for those moving to Step 7 – extra $200 per week.
  • NEW – Funding for safe staffing initiatives. Immediate $38 million for additional 500 nursing staff across 20 DHBs, $10 million for extra DHB nursing staffing for implementing CCDM and extra $750K for SSHW Unit to help ‘fast-track’ CCDM.

JUNE 18   3rd offer rejected/ ‘no more money on table’

Nurses reject offer after widespread comment that offer is not fair to senior nurses, enrolled nurses and health care assistants on other pay scales. Health Minister David Clark says no more funding on table for nurses’ deal, you can’t fix nine years of underfunding in one pay round and it has to balance pay demands across sector. Mediation is called for meanwhile fortnight’s stroke notice issued on June 20 for July 5 strike. Quick online survey to get nurses priorities for mediation.

JUNE 25  Mediation fails to reach new offer

JUNE 29  First strike called off/new offer made

Urgent facilitation leads to 4th offer and decision by NZNO to withdraw July 5 strike notice.

JULY 2  4th offer released

NZNO website crashes as members check out new rejigged offer. NZNO recommends offer as ‘fairer spread’ and do not believe any extra funding will be gained through striking.  Disappointment expressed on social media by many that rejigged offer not good enough to forgo July 5 strike. Voting underway and closes on Monday July 9. Strike notice remains for July 12.


  • Retains three year term (expiry July 31 2020)
  • Retains funding for safe staffing initiatives. Immediate $38 million for additional 500 nursing staff across 20 DHBs, $10 million for extra DHB nursing staffing for implementing CCDM and extra $750K for SSHW Unit to help ‘fast-track’ CCDM.
  • Retains $2000 lump sum, increase to on-call rates and EN PDRP increase
  • Retains 3% increase June 2018 + 3% August 2018 + 3% August 2019
  • Retains 1% added to senior nurse/midwife pay scale in June 2018
  • NEW – adds 3% to top of community nurse/midwife pay scale May 2019 (total pay rises equivalent to 12.6% over term of MECA for nurses on top scale)
  • NEW salary step for enrolled nurses May 2019 (equivalent to 3% and 12.5% total increase over term for ENs on new step)
  • NEW – 3% increases on all grade steps for senior nurses (equivalent to 13.6% over term for senior nurses on top step of each grade)
  • NEW salary step for HCAs May 2019 (equivalent to 12.5% over term for those on new step)
  • NEW – delayed introduction of new salary steps for nurses/midwives on basic pay scale – now Step 6 introduced May 2019 and Step 7 (August 1 2020 – outside of current MECA term but legally enshrined in MECA terms of agreement). Equivalent of 12.5% for those on step 6 in August 2019 and 15.9% on step 7 in August 2020.
  • NEW – commitment to implement pay equity negotiation outcomes from December 31 2019.






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