A brief announcement was made yesterday by the 20 DHBs and NZNO that, after a day of bargaining on Tuesday, the two parties will return to the table again on Tuesday July 24.
The NZNO in an update to members added that it also expected that the DHB negotiating team would be able to present a new offer – the fifth – for settling the collective agreement impasse for NZNO’s DHB nurses, healthcare assistants and midwives following last week’s historic national strike.
The announcement prompted a rash of comments on social media and queries to NZNO advocates, including one asking why NZNO wasn’t balloting members about a further strike. The vote on the fourth offer, which led to nurses walking off the job for 24 hours, was closer than previous votes and nurses are mixed over whether next week will bring a ‘good enough’ offer for now, or whether further strike action was needed to bring home the level of nursing concern.
The comments prompted an email to members by NZNO Industrial manager Cee Payne this morning.
Payne reiterated the skilled and experienced negotiating team was listening to members as it continued through the bargaining process.
“Like the nursing process, bargaining is a process, and each step requires assessment and decisions as to the appropriate care plan and triage on a daily basis,” said Payne, a nurse herself.
She described being called back to the negotiating table on Tuesday by DHBs as“clearly a positive response as a result of the strike action you took”. She added it was not unreasonable for the DHB negotiating team to ask for five working days to “discuss matters” with their chief executives.
“It is also very important that the public sees and understands that we are genuinely endeavouring to settle the MECA, rather than moving immediately to another strike ballot.”
The Government after Thursday’s strike reiterated its stand that it will allocate no new money to the pay offer, while NZNO has reiterated to the DHBs that it believed additional money was required if the two parties were to reach a deal that members were ready to accept.
Late yesterday NZNO also posted answers on Facebook to the two most common queries: ‘why the delay?’ and ‘why no strike ballot?’. It said that the DHBs’ negotiating team needed DHB chief executive sign-off for any new offer and, if there was any new money, that would also require ministerial approval. “The fact they are taking this time to get sign-off may feel like a delay; however, it signals progress may be being made,” said the post.
In response to the strike ballot query, they said having taken strike action with the aim of achieving a better offer, the union now in good faith had to wait for the renewed offer to see whether the strike effort had been successful.
“We will be able to assess next week if we have an improved offer for you to vote on or need to ballot members for further strike action.”