’Your Place in the NZNO World’ – Speech to NZNO Colleges & Sections Day 2018

Grant - Colleges & Sections DayKia ora, koutou. Thank you for inviting Kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku and I to present at your Colleges and Sections Day. With only ten minutes allocated for both of us, please forgive me if I skip the introductions and get straight down to the topic at hand: “Colleges and Sections – Your Place in the NZNO World”. 

As I was preparing for this talk, I thought I’d better check what it says about the topic in your own documentation. In the Colleges and Sections Handbook, I found this statement: “Colleges and sections are part of NZNO: they do not have a separate legal status.”

So it seemed to me that the topic is essentially about the relationship of this part – your part – to NZNO as a whole. And much like the relationship of an organ to a biological system, we can describe the relationship of part to whole in terms of structure, or function. 

In other words, your place in the NZNO world can be described in terms of the “anatomy” of NZNO, or in terms of our “physiology”. 

In terms of physiology or function, the purpose of NZNO activity is to pursue the goals in our Strategic Plan 2015-20.

Draft NZNO Strategic Plan 2015-20 Part A for AGM

These are:

• Improved health outcomes – by promoting excellence in patient care 

• Skilled nurses – by contributing to, and advocating for the development of nursing education programmes and the ongoing professional development of members 

• Strong workforce – by strengthening nursing workforce planning, sustainability and leadership 

• Effective organisation – by ensuring NZNO is a healthy and sustainable organisation 

You will all be very familiar with the Strategic Plan above. This year, as Acting Manager of Nursing and Professional Services Hilary Graham-Smith has just mentioned, the Strategic Plan 2015-20 has been supplemented by the NZNO Strategy for Nursing 2018-2023, which you will discuss in more detail after lunch.

Your role in this functioning of NZNO is vital. The Colleges and Sections Handbook says, “Colleges/sections are integral in realising the goals of the NZNO Strategic Plan 2015-20 and its professional vision for nurses.”

You do this by performing functions such as: 

• Hosting educational conferences and publishing journals or newsletters. These contribute to the ongoing professional development of members and achievement of skilled nurses. 

• Making formal submissions or providing input into NZNO’s national submissions, sometimes through responding to NZNO Consultation Requests. These can promote the excellence in patient care needed to achieve improved health outcomes. 

• Representing NZNO on external committees or in the media (including specialty media such as Kai Tiaki, Nursing Review, NZ Doctor etc.). 

• Building strategic relationships, scanning the environment and communicating emerging strategic issues to NZNO leadership. This helps achieve NZNO’s goal of being an effective organisation. 

Your capacity to perform all these functions, as volunteers, has been the focus of the Board’s Volunteer Sustainability Project.

Switching now to the “anatomical” view, your place in the structure of NZNO is shown in the Structural Diagram: “Our Waka, Our Way”. 

I will race through this presentation, which was given at last year’s AGM and at this year’s Regional Conventions, highlighting just a few points. The full powerpoint will be on the Membership Committee page of the NZNO website. 

In the side view, the hull or riu of the waka is the membership. 

Riu

In the top view, the staff are seated towards the stern and the various membership groups sit towards the bow. Your place is marked number six. Those sitting nearest to you indicate your direct relationships: these are Te Rūnanga (number seven), Regional Councils (number eight), and the Membership Committee (at number nine). 

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“The college and section link with the Board of Directors is through their representation on the membership committee”, says the Colleges and Sections Handbook. 

Your next speaker is Victoria Santos, the current Colleges and Sections rep on the Membership Committee. 

And then at the front of the waka are the National Hui and the AGM (at number 17), which takes place tomorrow. 

Because Colleges and Sections do not have a separate legal status, you must comply with NZNO rules and policies. These are set and amended through remits to the NZNO AGM. 

Colleges and Sections can have input into these rules and policies, and often do. A recent example is the 2017 remit from NZNO Nurse Managers New Zealand: “That the NZNO membership has the option to belong to up to three colleges or sections”, up from two. This remit was passed, and as at 31 March 2018 there were 109 members who had joined three Colleges or Sections. 

It followed an earlier attempt in 2016, by the Cancer Nurses College, to allow members to join as many colleges or sections as they needed, to allow them to be professionally supported in their chosen fields or interests. This earlier attempt was unsuccessful, as the voting system is not based on “one member, one vote”, and multiple College or Section memberships would increasingly distort representation at AGM. 

A number of other remits from Colleges and Sections have been unsuccessful in recent years, including another one from the Cancer Nurses College in 2016, that “Clinical Supervision be provided for nurses as per NZNO guidelines and that this should be included in the MECA”. DHB MECA negotiations are now complete, and an entitlement to clinical supervision has not been included. 

I understand that further discussion of these topics is planned today. As time is short, I won’t take questions now, but I will be available throughout the day to assist. 

Statement on my remuneration as NZNO President

Money

Statement on my remuneration as NZNO President

In standing for election in 2015, as many NZNO members know, I pledged publicly that, “As your next President, I will accept only my current Staff Nurse pay rate”.

As I approach the end of my first three-year term in office, I make this brief statement on my remuneration to verify that the pledge has been fulfilled.

The mechanism for delivering on my campaign commitment was reported in the September 2015 issue of Kai Tiaki Nursing New Zealand:

“[Brookes] says he will be standing by his pledge to only accept a staff nurse pay rate by donating the difference back to NZNO. 

‘My preference, so I don’t give any suggestion the role is worth less than the previous president has received, would be to accept the full salary and donate back the difference between my current staff nurse pay rate and the presidential pay rate’.

And since 2015, with the support of my family who were directly affected, this is what I have done.

Keeping my take-home pay the same as it was before I became President, and adjusting it only in line with changes in the DHB MECA, meant that I started on a net (after tax) annual salary of $60,246.94. This went to $61,451.88 on 4 July 2016, when base rates in the MECA rose by two percent. There it remained, up until the ratification of the new MECA last month.

Over the course of the last three years, I have reported in regular letters to the NZNO Board of Directors, through its Governance Committee, on the amounts donated back to NZNO. I now publish these letters, in the interests of full transparency.

Although it wasn’t part of my pledge, I also wanted to save money on work-related expenses. This was achieved by doing things like staying with local NZNO members while away on work trips, rather than in hotels, and by choosing the cheapest fares.

For the two full financial years I’ve been in the role so far (1 April 2016 to 31 March 2018), spending on travel and accommodation averaged just 53% of the money budgeted per annum in the NZNO President cost centre.

For their part, the Board wanted to make it clear that they did not endorse my decision to accept only Staff Nurse and donate the rest back to NZNO – a position they expressed, for example, at the Board meeting held on 18 October 2017 (see page 5 of the minutes, available at this link).

My last letter to the Board and Governance Committee, dated 10 September 2018, notes that when I stood for re-election this year, my candidate profile statement did not repeat the 2015 pledge to accept only the pay of a Staff Nurse. This decision was made after consultation with my family.

Therefore, while I will continue to decline the full salary during my second term as NZNO President starting on 19 September 2018, this statement constitutes my final public comment on my remuneration for the role.

Grant Brookes, NZNO President

The President comments: ‘Powered by unity and determination’

JULY 12, 2018, is a day that will go down in New Zealand nursing history.

For just the second time, nurses in our public health system took nationwide industrial action, alongside midwives and health-care assistants (HCAs) covered by the district health board (DHB) multi-employer collective agreement (MECA). 

For me, the hours I spent picketing and marching with my fellow NZNO members that day are the proudest moments of my nursing career. 

NZNO members stood together. “Yes” voters, “no” voters and non-voters stood side by side, outside on the picket line, or inside, providing life-preserving services. 

Auckland march - Newshub frame 1 (crop)
‘An historic day: Time spent picketing and marching with my fellow NZNO members on July 12 are the proudest moments of my nursing career.’

And now, three weeks later, DHB members are being asked to vote once again. They’re deciding whether to accept DHB offer number five – the third to be recommended by the NZNO negotiating team. As I write, the outcome of the vote is unknown. But what is clear is just how far we’ve come. 

Back in November 2017, most members were being offered three pay increases of two per cent, over 33 months, and a lump sum of $350 (pro rata). 

The DHBs had agreed in principle to support a pay-equity process, but there was no definite date for completion. They said, once again, they would implement care capacity demand management (CCDM) – this time, by June 30, 2021. 

In February, after rejecting the first offer, we were told DHBs could not provide wage increases above two per cent, unless they were to resolve an anomaly like the identified senior nurse issue, or were achieved through a pay equity process. 

But in this second offer, the lump sum was increased to $1050 and a deadline of July 1, 2019, was set for a pay-equity settlement. 

Prime Minister intervenes 

When that offer was also rejected, Jacinda Ardern was moved to speak up – the first time a New Zealand prime minister had intervened publicly in our bargaining – and proposed an independent panel. Our submission to the panel set benchmarks for appropriate pay ranges – $44,500 to $56,300 for an HCA, $57,500 to $61,500 for an enrolled nurse and $64,300 to $80,000 for a registered nurse or a midwife. 

We rallied because #HealthNeedsNursing, and we marched so New Zealand would #HearOurVoices. When the third offer came in June, it was almost twice as big. The lump sum was bumped up to $2000. Pay rises ranged from 9.3 per cent to 15.9 per cent over 26 months. 

Members were allowed to vote online for the first time, which led to the highest participation ever seen in a MECA ratification ballot. 

An extra $38 million was pledged by the Government to employ 500 more nurses, and $10 million allocated for additional expert nursing staff to support implementation of CCDM. Recruitment of the extra nurses has already begun. 

And now, at the end of July, after two further “reject” votes, Health Minister David Clark has put his signature to a new accord on safe staffing. The accord acknowledges that making sure there are enough nurses and midwives in our public hospitals to guarantee safety for staff and patients requires support from the Government. It strengthens commitments to deliver this by June 2021. 

The journey so far has not been easy. But every one of these advances has been powered by the unity and determination of thousands of NZNO members, who should be enormously proud of themselves. • 

 

Kai Tiaki cover, 7.18
First published in Kai Tiaki Nursing New Zealand, August 2018. Reposted with permission.

 

‘Striking for a better health system’ – Speech to Auckland NZNO rally

On 12 July 2018 nurses, midwives and health care assistants walked off the job at DHBs nationwide for the first time in almost thirty years. In Auckland, thousands NZNO members and supporters of the strike marched up Queen Street to rally in Aotea Square and listen to delegates from the city’s three DHBs – Gui Restall, Sela Ikavuka, Alys Moriarty and Joel Peeperkorn. The Chair of NZNO’s Greater Auckland Regional Council, Esther Linklater, CTU Māori Vice-President Syd Keepa and NZNO Lead Organiser Carol Beaumont also spoke. It was my honour and privilege to make this short announcement first. 

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Kia ora. What a wonderful sight you all are! 

I have two brief messages to deliver. The first one is for you, the NZNO members gathered here. 

I want you to know that the whole of NZNO is behind you today. I would like to read a statement from the Board of Directors, the elected governing body of your organisation:

“We offer our solidarity and support to all our members who are on strike and picketing. We also acknowledge those who are on rosters for life preserving services taking care of the public at this time. And we thank all members for their support.”

The second message, before I hand over to our wonderful member speakers, is for the public and the government.

Today we are striking today for a better a health system for us all. This is a message from all of us to the government and the employers. And I think it’s one that they can share. I believe the government and the DHBs also want a better health system for us all. 

The government say they can’t make up for nine years of underfunding in a single Budget, and that it’s going to take time. And I think we understand, deep down, that there is some truth to that. 

But we also want the government to understand something in return. They need to move faster, and they need to start with a bigger step right now! 

The last thing is for any members of the public who are here, or watching on live streams. Today’s action, this is for you. So please show your support for our nurses today. 

Thank you. 

Walking together in solidarity and friendship

BEING IN Suva for three days attending the FNA symposium and AGM highlighted for me and kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku the strong ties between nurses in the two countries. The visit also enabled shared learning.

NZ team at FNA
“Team New Zealand”: Symposium participants from Aotearoa pictured with FNA President Dr Adi Alisi Vudiniabola (second from right).

Auckland-based Pacific nursing leader Fuimaono Karl Pulotu-Enderman opened the symposium as the first keynote speaker. The closing speaker was Abel Smith, a former member of the FNA executive who now holds many nursing leadership roles in New Zealand. He is treasurer of NZNO’s Pacific nursing section.

In between, there were presentations from Auckland University researcher Ofa Dewes, from Waitematâ District Health Board’s health science academies programme coordinator Malcolm Andrews, and from two other New Zealand-based nurses, Simione Tagicakbau and Vunirewa Uluilakeba.

It was the first time that elected NZNO leaders had been invited to open the AGM. Participation as FNA’s chief guests was a great honour. The experience showed me the many similarities between our two countries, but also some differences.

Fiji – Grant & Kerri
NZNO co-leaders at the FNA AGM.

NZNO can only aspire to the kind of relationship with the Ministry of Health that exists between the FNA and the Fijian Ministry of Health and Medical Services. The chief nursing and midwifery officer, Silina Waqa-Ledua, responded on behalf of the ministry to many questions and comments from delegates.

“There are many commonalities,” Nuku said. “Fijian nurses are also grappling with health underfunding, the growing burden of non-communicable diseases, poverty, climate change and the dangers of privatisation.

“But only more recently have they begun to seriously consider cultural safety, in the context of increasing numbers of internationally qualified nurses being employed in foreign-owned private hospitals,” she said.

Around 300 nurses attended the events, over the three days. My opening address to the AGM, ‘Walking together in solidarity and Pacific friendship’, is available online: https://nznogrant.org/2018/04/29/walking-together-in-solidarity-pacific-friendship-speech-to-fijian-nursing-association-agm/ 

Report by NZNO president Grant Brookes

Related coverage:

Pay push for Fiji nurses

 

 

 

Pay push for Fiji nurses

With the backing of NZNO and an Australian nursing and midwifery union, Fiji nurses have achieved significant pay increases.

By NZNO president Grant Brookes

In April, kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku and I were invited as honoured guests to open the Fiji Nursing Association (FNA) annual general meeting (AGM). The invitation for the NZNO co- leaders to attend came after joint work last year between FNA, NZNO and the New South Wales Nurses and Midwives Association on a pay push for Fijian nurses.

It was the latest in a long series of collaborations between the Pacific nursing unions. In 2005, after New Zealand’s “fair pay” multi-employer collective agreement was successfully concluded, NZNO campaign leaders travelled to Fiji to support the FNA’s own fair pay campaign. In return, FNA leaders shared their victory and inspired delegates at the following NZNO AGM.

More recently, Fiji’s nurses had seen their pay fall behind the rising costs of living. But in 2017, backed by Australasian research and policy analysis, the successful FNA submission on a new civil service salary structure has resulted in pay increases of up to 75 per cent.

For the first time, the new pay grades recognise advanced nursing practice and specialty roles. However, they also impose five-year fixed term contracts in place of previous permanent employment.

The first roles to be graded under the new salary structure include nurse practitioners (NPs) and midwives. NP Vilisi Uluinaceva told me that the FNA’s evidence-based submission made a big difference.

Vikatoria & Vilisi IMG_6922
Nurse practitioners Vikitoria Makrava (left) and Vilisi Uluinaceva enjoy a break during the AGM.

Previously, she said, Fiji’s 40 NPs earned between FJ$26,000-28,000 (NZ$19,000-20,400) a year. “We’d been working for so long on that pay, we didn’t know how to bring this up.”

Now, she said, they’re on FJ$43,000.

Fellow NP Vikatoria Makrava explained: “When we talk about pay, we look at what we do. Many of us work in remote areas. There are no doctors. We prescribe – we do everything – and we might see more than 60 patients in a shift. The pay was not appropriate before.”

Aliote Galuvakadua is a midwife and maternity unit manager who first registered as a nurse in 1976. She said she was excited when she read the FNA submission. It has seen midwife pay go from FJ$18,000 to FJ$28,000.

Fiji Times photo (with Aliote Galuvakadua)
Midwife Aliote Galuvakadua explains what the new civil service salary structure means for her profession at the AGM (Photo/Fiji Times).

“The paper was really good”, she said. “It’s good we have been recognised as specialists after all these years. Talk of balloting for a strike is now gone.”

Other nursing specialties have either undergone, or are about to undergo job evaluations in order to be placed on the new salary scale. So far, the average pay increase for the nation’s 3360 nurses has been 14 per cent.

Meanwhile the Fiji Trades Union congress has lodged a dispute with the Ministry of Labour over the decision to place all civil servants on individual fixed-term contracts and says it plans to take the matter to the International Labour Organisation. •

First published in Kai Tiaki Nursing New Zealand, June 2018

Related coverage:

The President comments: ‘To strike, or not to strike? Is that the question?’

MECA meeting Kenepuru 2, 12.12.17

 

To strike, or not to strike? Is that the question?

Or as NZNO members in DHBs prepare to vote on their employer’s latest offer, is the question now vexing the troubled soul of nursing something deeper? 

There’s no doubt we’re living in a time when unrest is driving change, for our profession and for NZNO. As I said in last month’s issue of Kai Tiaki, members are rising up and making history.

“Never before have NZNO members in our public hospitals voted to reject an offer recommended by the national negotiating team, as they did in December”, I observed. 

“And the turnout at the March meetings saw a majority of members vote in a ratification ballot for the first time.”

To that, we can now add that more members took part in the online strike ballot last month than in any other vote in NZNO’s 109-year history. 

The past as we knew it – one of “doing more with less”, of increasing workloads and stress, and of NZNO membership as just “an insurance policy” and a person at the end of the phone – this is being swept away. Yet in the words of Joe Strummer, “the future is unwritten”. 

But as we write the future, we must attend to the soul of nursing. Fundamentally, it’s now a question of being true to who we are, as professionals and as trade unionists. 

As nurses, we have a unique language of kindness, understanding, perception and logic. Every day we bring that to the patients we care and advocate for. It is that language we now need to use for our own advocacy. 

The foundations of our profession are built on ethical integrity. We are evidence-based in thought and compassionate in deeds. 

We must now interact with each other and engage with our employers and the wider public ethically, using evidence and compassion. 

When the DHBs chose to talk to the media rather than give us time to digest their offer, we were angry. But we kept our integrity. We cannot let fear or anger undermine who we are or decide our vote for us. 

We are advocates. Effective advocates combine passion with good analysis, and carefully crafted communication. We must be that kind of advocate for ourselves and our profession. 

And we are carers. Each of us was drawn to the work of helping others because of this. 

Another name for care is solidarity. Our foremothers and forefathers who founded the union movement understood the meaning of this word. 

They were animated by the socialist spirit of looking out for others and standing together behind the collective decision, whatever it may be. As we seek change, let us also hold fast to that spirit. 

Whether we strike or not, the next steps for us may be difficult. But with care towards each other, they can be made easier. 

Struggle and adversity can bring out the worst, or the best in people. How we struggle and advocate for our profession defines who we are as a profession. 

My call to each and every one of you is this: be yourself, it is who we need most right now to win. •

(Written for Kai Tiaki Nursing New Zealand. Posted here in advance of publication in the June issue, with permission)