The message is overwhelmingly clear. NZNO members working for District Health Boards all around New Zealand have rejected the offer made by their employer as part of negotiations for a new Multi-Employer Collective Agreement (MECA). Details of that offer are here.
It’s not just the overwhelming majority who voted against – over 82 percent. The message is reinforced by the sheer number of NZNO members who stopped work to attend meetings where the voting took place.
In many DHBs, it was the largest turnout at ratification meetings since the height of the nurses’ Fair Pay Campaign which achieved the first national MECA a decade ago. In some areas, such as Lakes District Health Board, it was the biggest turnout ever.
As part of the vote, members were asked to write on the back of their ballot paper the issues they want their Negotiating Team to work on and improve. NZNO staff are now busy analysing that feedback.
But over the last three weeks, I travelled to seven DHBs in order to hear member feedback first hand as well. I attended dozens of ratification meetings, in my role as a member of the NZNO Negotiating Team. And I spoke with hundreds and hundreds of NZNO members who invited me into their workplaces.
Some common themes emerged. Firstly, we don’t have the staffing to safely care for the ever-increasing number of sick people coming through our doors.
Secondly, while the Ratification Bulletin outlining the employers’ offer ran to 12 pages, full of detail, one number in particular jumps out – the 1 percent figure for a pay rise this year.
And the employers’ refusal to look at many of the small, inexpensive changes which NZNO had asked for is symptomatic of a general lack of respect for nurses, midwives and health workers working in DHBs.
The NZNO Negotiating Team have arranged to meet urgently with the employers this Thursday. We will be sure to take your collective, nationwide feedback with us.