The pay talks for about 3500 DHB mental health nurses, public health nurses and support workers belonging to the Public Service Association were one of five stalled by the protracted negotiations between the 20 district health boards and NZNO.

The NZNO DHB multi-employer collective agreement (MECA) – the largest and precedent setting MECA for the DHB sector – was settled at the start of this month opening way for negotiations to resume for the PSA’s two mental health & public health nursing MECAs with a combined wages bill currently of about $217m.

PSA DHB national organiser, Ashok Shankar said it had been discussing with DHBs an offer – similar to that offered to NZNO – for its nurses and support worker members and it was hoping to hear next week that the offer had received Cabinet sign-off and was ready to go out to members.  Safe staffing moves and extra pay steps are understood to be part of the offer on the table.

The current NZNO Primary Health Care MECA expires today (August 31) and covers about 3000 NZNO nurses as well as administration staff, medical receptionists and some midwives.  Talks are due to get underway next month with the New Zealand Medical Association (NZMA) representing most of the 530 general practices and other employers included in the MECA.  One of the key issues will be pay parity with DHB nurses and NZNO’s proposed strategy of rolling out the still to be negotiated DHB pay equity settlement to nurses in other sectors, including primary health.

An offer is also expected shortly for the MERAS DHB midwifery MECA which expired at the end of July last year. MERAS co-leader Caroline Conroyco-leader – which represents most of the DHBs about 1,400 midwives – said positive discussions were ongoing with the DHBs over the new MERAS multi-employer collective agreement (MECA).  In June she said MERAS had guaranteed its members “at least” the equivalent pay scale as that settled by NZNO but was also seeking a pay differential between DHB core midwives and registered nurses – which were currently on the same pay scale.

A DHBs’ spokesperson said negotiations were ongoing with a number of MECAs with each at a different stage and  normal policy for the DHB’s negotiating representatives at DHB support agency TAS.

The Workforce Services Group at TAS provides support to the country’s 20 DHBs in negotiating the 21 national and regional multi-DHB collective agreements covering over 71,000 DHB employees.

Meanwhile the DHB MECA bargaining timeline has been updated by TAS to reflect the recently settled NZNO Nurses & Midwives MECA and the baseline annual cost of the NZNO settlement* has been revised from $1.707 billion to $1.906 Billion – an increase of just short of $200m.

*The estimated cost of settlement is calculated based on DHBs’ recent annual payroll data for the whole workforce potentially covered by each of the MECAs (i.e. includes non-union members).

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