Up to 30,000 nurses are on an eight-hour strike today to fight for more pay and increased staffing levels, after walking off the job at 11 am and aiming to strike until 7 pm.
The strike is the result of the New Zealand Nurses Union rejecting a third revised pay offer from district health boards. Nurses earn between $54,000 and $80,000 and are seeking an increase of up to 17%.
The union says most members have been offered a 1.38 per cent wage increase, which is below inflation.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told Tapatahi this morning "this particular offer has included significant increases for those on the lowest end of pay scales, so those are our health assistants and our enrolled nurses. For them, the offer is equivalent to a 12% increase.”
She urged the nurses to get back to the negotiating table "to see if we can find a resolution.”
Nurses Organisation responds
Meanwhile, the New Zealand Nurses Organisation says its 30,000 members have overwhelmingly rejected a second offer, in their current round of negotiations.
They say they're overworked, undervalued, and underpaid.
New Zealand Nurses Organisation director Kerri Nuku responded to the prime minister on Tapatahi this morning saying: “It’s not good enough. Last year our most critical time was coping with Covid-19. We called on our nurses, we called on our whole country, we’re all in this together - he waka eke noa.”
“Now to have little consideration and a pitiful offer being made to nurses, regardless of the explanation provided, our most senior nurses critical to the backbone of a healthcare system, to undervalue them and offer them an insignificant or small increase in their salary is just not acceptable.”
Asked if these pay offers addressed any of the issues Nuku said, “No, and that’s why nurses are taking to the roads and to picket lines today for eight hours so that the government can hear the concerns.
"Listening to the Prime Minister earlier she made a comment about getting Māori around the table, well get the nurses around the table, come and listen to the issues that nurses are facing, don’t get advisors to come and listen.”