Board briefing: an update from the Kaiwhakahaere and President

by Kerri Nuku and Grant Brookes / Photo: NZNO

E ngā iwi, tēnā koutou!

A New Year and a new Board of Directors brings this new regular column to Nursing Pulse in which we will highlight some of the work we do. 

One of our tasks as governors is to set the organisation’s guiding values. To the existing values of Whakawhirinaki/Trust, Pono/Integrity, Tika/Fairness, Waharua/Commitment and Whanaungatanga/Relationships, the Board has now added Kindness/atawhai:

To be kind to each other, without any specific reason; doing good for others; speaking with love/truth; listening with patience; and acting with compassion”. 

Thanks to Board member Anamaria Watene for consulting with Kaumātua, to give us this addition.

The Board has also been developing NZNO’s new five-year Strategic Plan 2021-25. We aim to present the final version for approval at the NZNO AGM in September, but a first draft should be out for member consultation before the regional conventions in April.

Feedback last year was that our new plan should demonstrate above all that NZNO is a membership-driven organisation. It should also be about strengthening NZNO’s response to equity and bicultural issues; prioritising; following through; and championing the public image of nursing.

A full review of the NZNO Constitution will follow, once the Strategic Plan is in place later this year. Meanwhile, the Board will be asking members to vote on Constitutional Remits to protect Te Rūnanga’s right to self-determination and to increase flexibility around our employment of the Chief Executive. Online voting on these remits will take place in July and August.

The Board has also agreed to consult members, through the same “one person, one vote” process, about NZNO’s Safe Staffing strategies, including CCDM. Should additional mechanisms to achieve Safe Staffing across all health sectors be considered? More information about this Policy Remit will follow.

In response to the recommendations in Ross Wilson’s report on the 2017/18 DHB MECA bargaining and campaign, the Board has established a MECA committee. Proposed by Board member Anne Daniels, it includes equal representation from Te Rūnanga. This committee will enable closer oversight and support of industrial processes.

Finally the new Board is committed to greater engagement with members, who are now invited to observe our meetings, by arrangement. We will also hold meetings in other regions, away from the NZNO National Office. The first of these regional meetings will be in Ōtautahi/Christchurch on 7-8 April.

For more information about these engagement opportunities, or any other aspect of this Board Briefing, please feel free to email us at kerri.nuku@nzno.org.nz or grant.brookes@nzno.org.nz. •

First published in Nursing Pulse, March 2020. Reposted with permission of the authors.

The President comments: ‘Year of the nurse, the midwife and of coming back together’

THE YEAR of the Nurse and Midwife is now just over a month old. This international celebration is long-overdue recognition of our professions’ contribution and our worth.

But we all know our professions need and deserve more than a year of acknowledgement. Behind the celebrations is our health system under strain and our professions under pressure. Distressing health inequities persist and nurse and midwife shortages are predicted to grow.

So how can we, as NZNO members in Aotearoa, make this a year to celebrate? 2020 affords real opportunities, but success is not a certainty unless we unite.

Our work has been historically undervalued because we’re a female-dominated profession. A pathway to resolution may be close, with our first pay equity settlement due this year. Will we be able to drive this settlement to all sectors and members?

A solution to entrenched pay disparities for those in Māori-led health-care providers could also be close at last, thanks to years of campaigning and a landmark claim lodged with the Waitangi Tribunal by Te Rūnanga. But with their first deadline of 2020 already missed, can we hold the Crown to account?

The district health board multi-employer collective agreement (MECA) is up for renegotiation. Can we make the gains our professions need in our benchmark collective?

Together, we can make 2020 our year. But that will rely on us using our best source of power: unity in action. And there’s no easy way to say this – unity in NZNO has lately been in short supply.

“In our combined 50-plus years of reporting and observing the activities of NZNO and the wider profession, we have witnessed some turbulent times”, wrote two co-editors in this journal last October. “But never before have we witnessed the division now, sadly, so evident within the organisation.”

To advance the health and wellbeing of our professions, we must heal our internal divisions. Each of us – especially those in positions of leadership – must take our share of responsibility for the years of division, and commit to rebuilding NZNO unity and power. The way to do so, I think, has already been written.

Acting in good faith

“Whatever people’s personal or political understandings”, said the co-editors, “the constitution offers a clear definition of partnership: Partnership is defined as including an acknowledgement by NZNO, based upon the te Tiriti o Waitangi partnership, of the ideals of reciprocity and of mutual benefit, including an obligation to act reasonably, honourably, and in good faith. In so recognising, NZNO further acknowledges the need for, and emphasis on, recognition, respect, accountability, compromise, and a balancing of interests.”

With ideas of reciprocity, respect, recognition and mutual benefit, this partnership concept is about working collectively to advance the interest of all, not just your own immediate interests. Indeed, our definition of partnership is a well-written way of describing the fundamental union principle of looking out for everyone. In 2020, this must be our way of working.

When together we remove historic pay injustices for women, the men in NZNO will benefit too. When together we end discriminatory funding for Māori and iwi providers, gains will also be made for the many non-Māori working in that sector.

But mutual benefit is not always automatic. It takes work, and commitment from us all.

By May this year, as things stand, NZNO members covered by the primary health care MECA will be paid up to 10.6 per cent less than those in DHBs. All those benefiting from extra steps in their latest MECA should now lend their support to those who don’t yet have them.

2020 is the year of the nurse and the midwife. Let it also be our year of coming back together. Our professions and our patients are relying on it. •

First published in Kai Tiaki Nursing New Zealand, February 2020. Reposted with permission. 

Year of the Nurse and the Midwife – Reflecting back as we move forward

by NZNO Kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku and President Grant Brookes

The World Health Organization has designated 2020 as the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife. NZNO will be joining in to celebrate the contributions nurses and midwives make and to envision the even greater contributions we can make in the future.

As we reflect on the mahi of nurses and midwives, we take inspiration from the whakataukī: “Titiro whakamuri kōkiri whakamua – Look back and reflect so you can move forward.” In so doing we honour our ancestors and learn from past mistakes.

2020 also marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale. Florence is a hugely important figure in the development of our profession, but she left behind a mixed legacy.

Nurses, midwives and tohunga have been serving their communities and practising healing in Aotearoa for centuries; from long before when Florence was advising Colonial authorities in Aotearoa New Zealand about how to prevent the “inherent diseases” of the “savages” from leading to their extinction, as they were brought out of “barbarism” through “the inestimable blessings of Christian civilisation”.

In fact much of our nursing history has been marred by these sorts of conservative and racist views, some of which persist today.

Returning to the whakataukī with which we opened, here are just some of the notable figures and events in our history we can look back on:

  • In 1901, thanks to the pioneering efforts of Grace Neill, Aotearoa New Zealand became the first country in the world to pass legislation recognising the qualifications and status of registered nurses. Recognition of registered midwives came three years later.
  • In 1902 Ellen Dougherty of Palmerston North became the world’s first registered nurse.
  • Akenehi Hei became the first Māori nurse and midwife to register under her own [Māori] name six years later in 1908. However, Māori trained nurses were providing care even before official registration began, following in the footsteps of Mereana Tangata (Mary Ann Leonard) who qualified in 1896.
  • Founded in 1908Kai Tiaki Nursing New Zealand is one of the world’s longest running nursing publications. Last year, Kai Tiaki became one of just 20 publications so far inducted into the Nursing Journal Hall of Fame at a ceremony in Reno, USA.
  • Turning 111 years old this year, the New Zealand Nurses Organisation Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa is proud to be one of the world’s first professional nursing associations.

Our indigenous and home-grown nurses and midwives have made an immeasurable contribution throughout the 20th and 21st centuries towards raising the health of all peoples in Aotearoa New Zealand. They’re now being joined by our internationally qualified nurses, too.

However, our health system today is under strain. Distressing health inequities persist and nurse and midwife shortages are predicted to grow. Historically our work has been undervalued because we are a female dominated profession. Thankfully an end is finally in sight, with the first Pay Equity settlements due this year. Entrenched pay disparities for those in Māori-led health care providers could also be closed at last, thanks to years of campaigning and a landmark claim lodged with the Waitangi Tribunal by Te Rūnanga o Aotearoa NZNO.

Nurses and midwives need to be properly deployed, valued and included in policy and decision-making. By the end of 2020, we hope to achieve greater investment in improving education, professional development, standards, regulation and employment conditions for nurses and midwives. Our goal is greater influence for nurses and midwives on health policy, more nurses and midwives in leadership positions, and more opportunities for development at all levels.

The needs of the 21st century also require innovative services that make better use of new technology. We need more community and marae-based services that are holistic and people-centred, as well as an increased focus on prevention and on undoing the harm caused by colonisation. These are all areas where we can play a leading role.

Finally, it is our hope that by the end of 2020, NZNO’s Strategy for Nursing 2018-2023 will be accepted across the health sector. This would signal a stronger commitment to a safer and more equitable future for all nurses and midwives in Aotearoa New Zealand.

“Me haere tahi tātou mō te hauora me te oranga o ngā iwi katoa o Aotearoa”, “Let us journey together for the health and wellbeing of the people of Aotearoa” (Rev Leo Te Kira 15 December 2005).

First published at NZNO’s blog. Reposted with permission of the authors.

The President comments: ‘We will overcome’

According to my research, the upcoming 2019 Annual General Meeting in Wellington should mark the longest period of continuous service by an NZNO president in our 110-year history. I will have served four years and a day. 

Past presidents have won an equal, or greater number of elections. But through the quirks of history, either they weren’t consecutive, or they were at a time when presidential terms were two years, rather than three years as they are today. 

Throughout this past 110 years, NZNO has undergone much dynamic change. We’ve transformed from a small group vehemently opposed to advocacy on pay, to over 50,000 members prepared to take to the streets to secure an environment where good health can thrive. 

NZNO has embraced change throughout its history. Members voted to strike in 1985, only to have it called off. Four years later, Auckland nurses Jenny Landsbergen, Lucien Cronin and Gordon Love took to the streets in our first ever nationwide industrial action.

The four years of my presidency has been a story of working together towards positive, member-led change. We have gained momentum in collectively shifting the ethos of our organisation. We are insisting that our organisation is led by us, the members. 

The changes started small. In 2015, delegates at the NZNO AGM directed NZNO to act in accordance with member values. They voted that we should divest from fossil fuels, become a Living Wage employer and expand our global connectedness with other nursing unions

Within a year, the last of these three was complete. We had joined with our sister unions in Global Nurses United, who are now leading the worldwide fight for safe nurse:patient ratios

The changes grew through members’ growing insistence that we would lead our organisation’s direction. As 2017 rolled into 2018, members in the DHBs stood up and took unprecedented actions for themselves, for communities reliant on our over-stretched health system and for a union that represents us all. 

As I wrote in this column a year ago, about the DHB strike of July 2018, “For me personally, the hours I spent picketing and marching with my fellow NZNO members that day will stand as the proudest moments of my nursing career”. 

And finally, now nearly every important NZNO decision belongs to all members with one member one vote

The four-year journey has not been easy. At times, there has been rancour and bitter division. 

But we have worked through our differences before. We have innovated, adapted, and made significant changes to be where we are today. Had our organisation not been prepared to embrace change we would still be campaigning against penal rates, and standing against the 40-hour working week! 

Last month, a hard-hitting report was released on the 2017/18 DHB MECA bargaining and campaign. I believe it affirms the experiences and concerns of thousands of NZNO members. The very existence of this report, I ascribe to member pressure, in particular to the proposals put forward at last year’s AGM by the NZNO Greater Auckland Regional Council

Today, there is a last stand of resistance to member-led change in NZNO. But we will overcome because over the four years we have organised ourselves to insist our member voice will be heard and acted upon. 

This year’s AGM will see a new Board take office, elected by the entire NZNO membership. The new Board will have to ensure that all recommendations of the MECA review are implemented, that a new NZNO Strategic Plan for 2020-25 is put in place and that our structures are up to the challenges the future will throw at us. I look forward to working with your newly elected Board to ensure this happens. 

The last four years have been important ones for our 110-year old organisation. The next chapter is ours to write together.

First published in Kai Tiaki Nursing New Zealand, September 2019

Letter from a nurse and lawyer

Below is a copy of a letter from an NZNO member which was sent last week to the Chairs of an NZNO College and a Regional Council. The author, who is dually qualified as a Registered Nurse and lawyer, has agreed for it to be published here anonymously, saying: “I’d really happy if it helps get an understanding out there of the issues that we are really dealing with.”

RE: THE MOTION TO REMOVE GRANT BROOKES AS PRESIDENT OF NZNO

This is NOT a legal opinion.

The below is a summary of my thoughts regarding the motion to remove Grant Brookes as president of NZNO.

I wrote it to help me process and to clarify for myself what the issues are and then to put them forward to my Regional Council and professional college with my request that they vote NO to the motion.

I have been asked if my summary can be shared with others and I am happy to allow that on the understanding that it represents my own analysis and thoughts and was shared in the first place for the specific purpose of supporting my own position to the groups within NZNO that I am entitled to submit to.

I do have legal training, (am also a nurse) and that was useful to me in trying to analyse the complex and somewhat confusing material that I waded through. My conclsuion is that the correct response to the motion to remove the President is tovote NO.

However, I am not a specialist employment lawyer, have not had the benefit of time the time it takes to conduct comprehensive legal research and analysis of the matter and want to make it clear my summary belowdoes not in anyway constitute a legal opinion on the matter. 

In support of my conclusion I make the following points:

Process

  1. Notwithstanding that the process that is being followed might be allowable under the Rules of the NZNO constitution (that is by no means settled) NZNO is not above the law. Any process followed to evaluate the behaviour and decide on an outcome, and any actions taken must be consistent with New Zealand law, not only because of the very serious financial and reputational risks to the organisation if that is not done, but most importantly because that is the right thing to do.
  1. While the employment status of the President (e.g., employee/ self-employed/ elected official etc) is not clear the matter has been managed so far as if there is an employer/ employee relationship. Therefore fundamental employment principles should apply. 
  1. Most relevant are the requirements to: 
  • deal with employees in good faith, 
  • be fair and reasonable 
  • use a fair process to investigate misconduct and 
  • only impose an outcome that is proportionate to the misconduct. 

Disregard of these (already there are instances) can give rise to legal action for a breach of procedural fairness or a breach of substantive fairness. That would be costly to NZNO in more than financial terms.

  1. Procedural fairness includes that an investigation must be based on the principles of ‘natural justice’ including a presumption of innocence, fair consideration of the facts within their context, being listened to with an open mind and a lack of predetermination of the outcome. I do not believe natural justice has been a feature of this process.

Behaviour

  1. The behaviour called into question by the NZNO Board has notbeen proved to be misconduct. An investigation undertaken by employment lawyer Steph Dhyrberg noted: 
  1. the text that the President had sent was ‘ambiguous’. The text could equally be interpreted as conciliatory (that was my interpretation as it references forgiveness and says ‘we need you back’), or interpreted as non-sensical. Nonetheless, although his behaviour in sending the text has been acknowledged as inappropriate by the President he was discouraged/ prevented from apologising.
  2. that the President had been drinking at the time he sent the text is quite rightly regarded as ‘irrelevant’. It is disappointing then that it is raised, remarked on several times and later construed – with no further evidence – that he was a ‘heavy drinker’ 
  3. that the intent of the conversation the day before the text was sent was also ambiguous. Talk about there being a crisis and needing/ having a plan are not outrageous in the context of the situation. Indeed a review of the MECA negotiation process has criticised that there was a lack of a plan. The sinister interpretation that has been retrospectively overlaid onto the President’s remarks in order to justify a threatening interpretation of the text is purely speculative. 
  4. Other behaviour such as speaking at the rally, sending an email to a senior staff member that was considered patronising, looking dishevelled, and drinking in his own time are not behaviours that could, in a fair and reasonable enquiry, be considered misconduct. It is not fair or reasonable that these matters, apparently not raised at any level other than being remarked on, are now included to add gravity to the behaviour that is being investigated. 
  1. In any case, evidence put forward by the complainant against the President may be unreliable. For example, during the investigation by Steph Dhyrberg the complainant claimed that the text she received was an ‘out of the blue’ communication and that she and the President were not in regular communication. The Dhyrberg report makes much of this to support an interpretation of the message as a ‘threat’ to the complainant. Yet the President has approximately three years of text communications on his phone between himself and the complainant that evidence the existence of a different relationship than what has been suggested – one that seems collegial, friendly, professional and respectful. Of course, in the absence of a proper forensic examination of their communication, or at least sworn affadavits it is not possible to judge whose evidence is the most reliable. But it is not right and certainly not consistent with the principles of natural justice to merely accept the complainant’s statements as being more trustworthy than the President. 

Inconsistent Treatment

  1. The standard against which the President’s behaviour has been judged is inconsistent with that being used to judge others’ similar behaviour and the outcomes being considered for the President are significantly more serious than being considered for others. For example:
  1. There have been inappropriate communications from NZNO staff that do not appear to led to disciplinary action. For example
    1. NZNO staff actively challenging nurses on Facebook during MECA negotiations, without identifying themselves, to an extent that was intimidating. We are not aware of disciplinary consequences that resulted from these matters.
    2. NZNO staff were very recently making inappropriate comments on Facebook to the extent that it is known they were requested to cease doing so by the CEO. This has been intimidating to NZNO members who are entitled to engage in debate about matters that concern them. As recently as Friday the moderators of one group were compelled to request that NZNO board members and employees desist from trying to join the group. We are not aware of any disciplinary consequences that resulted from these matters. 
  2. Steph Dhyrberg herself was recently the author of an offensive Twitter communication for which she was compelled to publicly apologise (reference Newshub article 28/01/2019 “Wellingtonian of the Year Apologises Over ‘Whores’ Tweets”) The content of the tweet concerned was substantially more damaging to many more people than the text sent by the President to the complainant. Yet (quite rightly) she was able to withdraw her statements and apologise. It is somewhat ironic then that she has been selected to investigate the significantly less miscreant text that the President sent to the complainant. 

It is a common basis for successful legal challenge in the employment courts that an employee has been treated in a manner that is inconsistent with the way others have been treated. 

Acting in Good Faith

  1. There have been likely breaches by NZNO of the ‘good faith’ obligations that are incumbent on parties in an employment relationship and on employers in an employment investigation. 

Notably: 

  1. The immediacy with which the complainant’s perception of threat from the text sent by the President was concurred with notwithstanding the alternative narrative that the complainant’s pivotal role in the MECA negotiations, the protracted negotiating process, the widely expressed frustration and disappointment of the members with the progress of the negotiations and the personal villification of the complainant on social media had greatly increased the possibility of her perceiving threat in the situation. 
  2. A seemingly immediately sinister interpretation of the text and the retrospective gathering of other (contested) examples of behaviour to support that sinister interpretation. 
  3. The reported lack of support by the CEO for a more conciliatory response from the outset evidenced by the CEOs immediate dismissal of the suggestion of an apology and the blocking of subsequent attempts by the President to apologise.
  4. The wide release (to all members and others who could easily access it without logging in as a member to the NZNO website) of personal information about the President beyond what is necessary for those who are to vote to assess the behaviour that is under question of misconduct.
  5. The unsubstantiated labelling of the President’s alcohol consumption as ‘heavy drinking’ – where that is not supported, has not been suggested or raised in any other context as a matter of concern, and is not relevant to the current enquiry, but nonetheless is damaging to the President as it encourages the perception that he may in fact be a heavy drinker which could diminish his standing among other staff and the members of the NZNO and may influence their voting in the motion to remove him.

Outcome and Consequences

  1. While we have been encouraged to focus on the behaviour of the President, I believe it is important to consider the proposed consequences of proceeding with the removal of the President at the Special General Meeting. This is the matter that carries significant legal, financial and reputational risks for our organisation. 

.

  1. It is important to note that Steph Dhyrberg places a very clear limit on her retainer of investigation of misconduct. She specifically declines to recommend whether removal is appropriate 
  1. Although the NZNO constitution allows removal for misconduct, that is not defined in the Constitution. Employment law requires that a disciplinary outcome is not disproportionate to the misconduct it addresses and dismissal typically follows a finding of serious misconduct. Removal from his position would be an excessive consequence for the behaviour of the President. 

.

  1. As well as the injustice to the President of doing so, imposing a disproportionate outcome exposes the organisation to the risk of a legal action for substantive breach of employment law.

Membership

  1. Furthermore, removal of the President has the potential to cause significant harm to the organisation and relationships with the rank and file members. It is no secret that the regard with which many members hold the union is currently at a very low level . Many members feel that their voices are not being listened to, that they are powerless to effect any change in the organisation and that they are disenfranchised. 
  1. Removal of the elected President for behaviours that have largely been seen as arising from his commitment to give the membership a voice has been construed by many as an attempt to silence the members, to shut down criticism, cut off communication and further distance the members from the power base of the organisation.
  1. Furthermore, to remove the elected President with no clear mandate from the members (e.g., by member-wide ballot), is not only wrong in principle but sadly confirms to the members the significant disconnect between themselves as members and the executive and employed staff of the NZNO.
  1. Finally, it is widely considered rather disingenuous for the Board of Directors to engage in a process on their last day in office that removes the elected president without a clear mandate from the membership and leave the incoming Board to manage the resultant consequences 

Bullying

  1. I am aware (as it has been expressed at the Regional Meeting I attended and it is evident on social media) that NZNO employed staff have been feeling criticised and bullied. I acknowledge there is a reasonable basis to that, at least an impression of it on social media. While I wholeheartedly agree a strong stand needs to be taken on bullying and staff need support to manage it, I would be very disappointed if this enquiry into the Presidents alleged misconduct was construed in such a way as to be used to try to promote that the organisation is addressing bullying. 
  1. On the other hand, this process surely represents an opportunity NZNO could embrace to address a perceived culture of division, bullying and negativity with a more open, compassionate and restorative process. In my opinion, expert consultation on those matters would be a more profitable use of the union’s funds than continued litigation. 

Summary

  1. In summary I am left with a strong sense that the process being undertaken is wrong. The investigation of the President’s alleged misconduct has been unfair and the outcome proposed is quite extreme..It has not been shown in a fair and reasonable investigation that his behaviour amounts to misconduct and even if it had been the proposed outcome of removal from his Position is a disproportionate consequence that is entirely morally and legally unjustifiable. The proposed motion should be voted down as it is just not right but also because in proceeding there are significant legal, financial and reputational risks to the union.

NZNO injunction application proceeds as DHB MECA report drops

Media Release: NZNO President

27 August, 2019

Last-ditch mediation between the President and the Board of the New Zealand Nurses Organisation ended in Wellington today without agreement. The President is opposing the Board’s attempt to remove him from office over a complaint laid by a senior NZNO staff member in July 2018, and other allegations yet to be released. 

The failed talks took place on the same day that the NZNO Chief Executive released the DHB/NZNO MECA Negotiation Process Independent Review Report

“The Independent Review Report lays bare the tensions within NZNO at the time that the senior staffer laid the complaint against me”, said NZNO President Grant Brookes. 

The Independent Review Report found that the pressures which came onto the organisation and individuals during the 2018 DHB MECA negotiations were intense and, at times, almost overwhelming and that this had consequences in strained relationships. 

The overriding recommendation in the Report is that NZNO invest in an internal reconciliation and and dialogue process with the objective of restoring respect, communication and cooperation. 

“It’s an absolute tragedy that the NZNO Board has failed to heed this advice and has instead done the opposite”, said Grant Brookes. “With preparations already under way for DHB bargaining next year, NZNO members need leaders they can trust to implement the Report’s recommendations.”

“Meanwhile, every day that the Board’s process continues, more damage is done to NZNO and to the image of our nursing profession. It’s time to call a halt.”

The President’s application for an injunction against his removal from office will now proceed. A preliminary hearing will take place in the Employment Relations Authority at 50 Customhouse Quay in Wellington at 9.30am on Thursday, 29 August.

The hearing is open to the public. Donations are still being accepted through Givealittle for Grant Brookes’ legal defence fund.


Update 5.30pm: My lawyer has advised that new information which has come to light necessitates the postponement of the hearing before the Employment Relations Authority which was set down for Thursday.

Update, 3 September: Today, an updated Statement of Problem was filed in the Employment Relations Authority seeking a compliance order against the NZNO Board. The compliance order could compel the Board to abide by the NZNO Constitution, and invalidate the actions they have taken in breach of the Constitution. The ERA has granted urgency, although a date has not yet been set for a hearing.

Update, 29 November: The new NZNO Board has agreed to a proposal for the withdrawal of the legal proceedings, on the basis that all outstanding matters are at an end, and this has now been done.

Injunction application filed by Nurses Organisation President

Media Release

22 August 2019

An application was filed in the Employment Relations Authority in Wellington today, seeking an injunction to prevent the Board of the New Zealand Nurses Organisation from removing the President from office. 

The application has been made under Section 161(k) of the Employment Relations Act 2000, on the basis that the Board of Directors has failed to comply with the union’s rules. It was submitted on behalf of two NZNO members, Ruth Whittle and President Grant Brookes.

“I have recent personal experience of how deeply flawed NZNO’s complaints process is”, says Ruth. “Having reviewed the available evidence, I believe the NZNO Board’s motion to remove Grant Brookes from office clearly breached the rules of NZNO.” 

The attempted removal of the President has surprised and angered many, given that NZNO members are currently voting to elect a new Board. 

“The process which the outgoing Board has used in a last minute bid to remove me from office, just one day before their term expires, is unconstitutional, fundamentally unfair and an appalling abuse of power”, says Grant. 

“But over the past week we’ve also seen thousands of NZNO members mobilise together in a multitude of ways for the type of organisation they want to belong to. I’d like to thank in particular each and every person who has donated through Givealitte to my legal defence fund. 

“With this passion, energy and commitment, I know we can renew NZNO. We can be once more an organisation which is focused on the needs of its members and the health of Aotearoa New Zealand. 

“Meanwhile every day that the Board’s process continues, more damage is done to NZNO and to the image of our nursing profession. It’s time to call a halt.”