30,000 nurses and healthcare workers walk off the job today

By Jessica Tyson

Around 30,000 nurses and healthcare workers have walked off the job today as part of a nationwide strike.

It comes after workers rejected the fourth pay increase offered to them by their District Health Board employers. The offer included a package worth around $520mil which would deliver pay rises of between 12 and 15.9 percent.

As well as the strike, thousands of workers are holding demonstrations across the country.

Wellington nurse Mel Anderson was at one held in the capital this morning where she spoke to Te Kāea reporter Moana Makapelu-Lee.

"We want safer staffing and we also want what we're worth. We're worth more than what the governments offering and we deserve a bigger pay rise." 

A New Zealand Nurses Organisation representative who joined the nurses at the demonstration said she was proud of the nurses for standing up.

"We're also pleased for them because they have determined that they wanted to take this action and that's important as a union that we stand beside them."

Earlier this week, Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters said the "government is naturally very, very disappointed" by the continued strike actions. 

"That's because we approached the negotiations in a positive way.  The government doubled the offer from its opening position.  In addition to a pay increase, the office sought to address staffing issues by adding 500 extra nurses, recognising the experience of longer serving nurses by adding two extra steps to their pay scale and by bringing forward pay equity discussions."

Meanwhile, plans are in place at hospitals to ensure patient safety during the strike.

“We will continue with our best endeavours to ensure that each DHB has a life-preserving services plan for immediate patient safety and an emergency management plan in the event of a significant disaster,” says Payne.

The strike will continue until 7am tomorrow.