More than 90 per cent of votes cast by PSA mental health and public health nurses were in favour of the new DHB pay deal that closely mirrors the NZNO deal settled in August.
Voting closed at the end of last week with PSA members voting to back the deal which by 2020 will deliver a new top base salary of $77,386 for inpatient nurses and $83,712 for community nurses. A pay equity claim for PSA’s more than 3000 nurse members is also to be negotiated during the new agreement’s term.
The deal also includes escalation pathways for reporting and managing acute short staffing, a reinforcement of the ‘zero-tolerance’ policy on violence in the workplace and a commitment to reasonable workloads. But PSA national secretary Erin Polaczuk said it was still looking forward to receiving the recommendations of the Mental Health and Addiction Inquiry and “much bolder steps towards addressing systemic, longstanding workload and staffing issues at the national level”.
Ashok Shankar, a DHB national organiser and bargaining advocate for the PSA, said the turnout to ratification meetings was ‘okay’ probably due to the long lead-in time and members being reasonably happy with the offer which 91 per cent of Auckland voters and 94 per cent of the ‘rest of New Zealand’ voters supported.
Polaczuk said the deal was significant for its members who worked “aboveand beyond the call of duty to provide health services under frequently difficult and stressful circumstances” as it included provision for PSA and management to agree to minimum numbers of staff in a workplace to provide safe and effective care. Also for an escalation process when additional staff are not available to as to protect both workers and patients.
Shankar said the union now had to sit down and talk with the parties and agree the best process for negotiating a pay equity claim with the DHBs’ now having accepted claims from NZNO, the midwifery union MERAS and PSA for the nursing and midwifery professions. Currently DHB registered nurses and midwives are on the same pay scale but MERAS, which represents the vast majority of DHB midwives, is currently urging its members to reject a DHB deal based on the NZNO offer saying midwives are not ‘nurses by another name’. MERAS also says the DHB has agreed to pay equity claims to be negotiated on an occupation by occupation basis.
DHB PSA mental health and public health nurse pay offer
- The main MECA expired a year ago and the new contract would expire in 2020 – so the offer covers a three year period
- 3 x 3% increase for all members – the first backdated to July 2, the second backdated to September 3 and the third in June next year
- Two new pay steps on the current five step inpatient mental health nurse pay scale with the new step 7 of $77,386 coming into effect on June 1 2020
- One new step on the enrolled nurse nurse pay scale and one new merit step on the mental health assistant pay scale in June 2019
- The top step of the eight step community mental health and public health nurse pay scale will increase in June 2019 from current $74,377 to $83,712
- The top steps of the designated senior nurse salary scale will increase by a further 3% in 2019 resulting in a senior salary scale range of $79,760 to $130,653
- An agreement to work in partnership with DHBs and other union partners to negotiate a pay equity process for all members within the term of the MECA.