Online response has been mixed to the news of the calling off of the July 5 strike to allow nurses to consider and vote on a revised district health boards’ offer.
Some nurses are expressing relief and hope that the new offer will meet expectations while others are expressing frustration that the July 5 strike was called off before members could see the offer.
At this stage the strike notice still remains for the July 12 strike.
District Health Boards around the country had started to postpone elective surgery and non-urgent appointments leading up to July 5, after mediation earlier in the week failed to resolve the longstanding impasse between the New Zealand Nurses Organisation and DHBs, and the historic 24 hour national strike looked likely to go ahead.
But NZNO industrial services manager Cee Payne said in a statement that the two days of facilitation, that ended this afternoon, had led to the DHBs proposing an ‘improved’ offer that the NZNO Negotiation Team was ready to recommend to its about 29,000 DHB nurse, healthcare assistant and midwife members.
“We will therefore take the revised offer to members via an online ballot next week,” said Payne.
The news of the averted July 5 strike has been welcomed by Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters and Health Minister Dr David Clark as good news for nurses, DHBs and patients. “I encourage nurses to consider this offer closely,” said Clark.
The Government earlier said there was no new money on the table so expectations are that the revised offer is a reconfiguring of the $520 million package (covering the years 2017-20) with possible options including shortening the length of the agreement – so it expires next year rather than 2020 – and a rejigging of the pay offer, safe staffing and pay equity commitments into a shorter time frame. Both parties have said they will not comment on the offer until it is released on likely Monday afternoon.
Payne said to give members time to assess the revised offer and to vote online, NZNO had formally notified DHBs that strike action for Thursday 5 July has been withdrawn.
But notice remains for the July 12 strike as the results of the ballot and whether New Zealand Nurses Organisation nurses, healthcare assistants and midwives accept or reject this offer – the fourth – will not be known until after online voting closes on July 9.
DHB spokesperson Helen Mason said DHBs will be contacting patients to let them know what this means for services next week, and contingency planning will continue for the potential strike action on Thursday 12 July.
Payne said due to the union’s obligations to be compliant with the Code of Good Faith for the public health sector, life preserving services and contingency planning would need to continue in preparation for the strike action planned for Thursday 12 July. “For which the strike notice remains in force at this stage.”
Mason said details of the revised offer, including the terms of settlement, are to be developed over the weekend and NZNO said they would then by checked for accuracy by the NZNO Negotiation Team.
“We expect to be able to release the full details of this revised offer to members on Monday 2 July at approximately 2 pm,” said Payne.
Online voting is due to run from Tuesday 3 July to Monday 9 July.
“No one wants to see industrial action in our hospitals and both parties are to be congratulated for the constructive way they have continued to work together to find a settlement,” said Peters about the breakthrough offer following facilitation.
Clark said the lifting of the strike notice would mean DHBs could operate as usual next week. “I know this will be a huge relief to patients.”