The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) has issued a strike notice today covering some 3200 Primary Health Care (PHC) nurses and receptionist/administration staff across more than 500 practices and accident/medical centres nationwide.
The first 24 hour strike is set for 9 November with a further 24 hour strike scheduled to take place on 23 November.
PHC members voted overwhelmingly in favour of the strikes and the union says that’s a clear indication of their frustration, anger and disappointment - and of how tired they are of being constantly undervalued after 10 months of fruitless negotiations.
This follows two national rounds of stop work meetings and a one day strike on 3 September.
NZNO Industrial Advisor Chris Wilson said that, despite assurances from the Ministry of Health, DHB representatives and employers in September that there is finally a commitment to pay parity with staff employed in DHBs, there has been no tangible progress to enable a return to the negotiating table, so the strike notice has been served.
"It is very disappointing that we have to take this step. Funders and the Government must join with the employers of this workforce and act with urgency to appropriately value their primary health care workforce and halt the staff recruitment and retention issues plaguing the sector.
"Just this week the Minister of Health has encouraged us to continue using the Employment Relations Authority to help progress a settlement, but we have already been to mediation with no progress because the Government will not address the funding issue at the heart of the problem.
"Our members are now feeling more fobbed off and angrier than ever."
Ms Wilson said it was unfathomable that strike action should be required, with significant disruptions to services in the community, when all these PHC nurses and staff want is to be paid the same.
"They are not asking more than what is just - equal pay for work of equal value. There is still an opportunity to get around the table and find a solution and NZNO is willing to meet at any time to resolve this impasse."