“If you love your Mama, march with midwives next week”.
That’s the call from midwives planning a symbolic hikoi starting in the North and the South, moving towards Parliament over four days from next Monday (11 Feb) to Thursday (14 Feb).
MERAS Co-leader (Industrial) Jill Ovens, says the midwives, who work for the 20 DHBs, have been in negotiations since their multi-employer collective agreement (MECA) expired in July 2017, 18 months ago. They have also subsequently had two lots of mediation, two weeks of strikes and a month in facilitation in the Employment Relations Authority. She says members have been frustrated at delays in the bargaining process.
“Finally, the DHBs put a proposal to MERAS representatives that addressed our key issues during a facilitation meeting of the full negotiating teams on February 1,” she says. “But there is no formal offer on the table yet, so MERAS workplace representatives voted last night (Fri Feb 8) to go ahead with the planned actions.”
If the proposal is confirmed as a formal offer, MERAS will recommend it to our members for ratification.
“As a negotiating team, we are cautiously optimistic. But until we get an offer in writing, members are unwilling to call off the strikes,” Jill Ovens says.
There will be one 12-hour strike period from 9am to 9pm in each DHB between 11 and 14 February. There will also be marches and rallies on the strike days in each region culminating in a rally at Parliament on the 14 February.
“The only exception could be in Nelson where we are monitoring the situation with the fires. Some of our members live in Wakefield and were evacuated on Friday night, so we are mindful of how traumatic the unfolding emergency is for that community and for our members,” she says.
Examples of planned actions:
Monday, 11 February in Auckland: Gather at Takutai Square behind the Britomart or outside Auckland Hospital by 9.30am and march to Albert Park where there will music and speeches in the band rotunda from 10.30am to 12noon.
Tuesday, 12 February in Hamilton: Gather at Memorial Park at 11.30am and walk across Bridge St, up Victoria St to Garden Place where there will be a rally from 12noon till 2pm.
Wednesday, 13 February in Christchurch: Gather at Cathedral Square at 11am, walk down Cashel St to Oxford Tce, and picket by the Avon River opposite the Canterbury DHB Corporate Headquarters until 1pm when there will be a picnic.
Thursday, 14 February in Wellington: Gather at Midland Park (by the Astoria) at 12.30pm, and then walk along Lambton Quay to Parliament arriving around 1pm where there will be speeches and music. We hope to meet with MPs to discuss the well-being of women and their babies in a midwifery service that is stretched to crisis point.
Strike Days for each DHB:
Monday 11th Feb: Northland, Waitemata, Auckland, Counties-Manukau, Southern
Tuesday 12th Feb: Waikato, Lakes, Bay of Plenty, Tairawhiti, South Canterbury, West Coast
Wednesday 13th Feb: Taranaki, Whanganui, Mid-central, Hawkes Bay, Canterbury
Thursday 14th Feb: Hutt, Capital & Coast, Wairarapa, Nelson-Marlborough