Recommendations arising from the Independent Panel  – set up to resolve the current dispute without strike action – are not binding, assures panel chair Margaret Wilson.

In the same week that nurses starting voting on whether to strike in July, the Independent Panel – set up at the suggestion of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern – met for the first time to hear submissions from representatives of the New Zealand Nurses Organisation and 20 District Health Boards.

Margaret Wilson, the chair of the panel said there was ‘a good level of discussion between all parties and a full and frank discussion of the issues.”

“The panel was impressed by the submissions made by both parties and the commitment to the process designed to be open and encourage a free-flow of information.

“Each party has made written submissions to the panel, which will draft interim recommendations. We’ll hear further submissions from both sides and hope to have a final recommendation for both parties to consider by the middle of May.”

She said the panel’s recommendation were not binding on either side, but would be “based on a joint approach and submissions and reflecting the views of both sides”.

Nurses, midwives and health care assistants started voting on Monday over a proposal to take two 24 hour strikes on July 5 and 12.

The proposed strike dates have been set to allow time for NZNO to consider the recommendations from the independent panel and decide whether to put a revised DHB offer out to members to consider in June.

In announcing the strike ballot last week NZNO industrial services manager Cee Payne said that the panel and government would need to be “courageous” to resolve the dispute as it would take “some effort for nurses to feel they are valued again”.

A DHBs’ spokesperson Helen Mason at the same time said  the 20 DHBs remained optimistic that the independent panel process would find a pathway to address the pay and workload issues raised.


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