Home | Industry & Reform | Thousands of NZ nurses back to work after country-wide strike
Nurses, midwives and supporters out the front of Wellington Regional Hospital. Source: Twitter

Thousands of NZ nurses back to work after country-wide strike

New Zealand nurses and midwives have wrapped up industrial action this morning.

The strike was held following an online vote by the New Zealand Nurses Organisation’s (NZNO) 30,000-strong membership through which the majority rejected the latest proposed District Health Boards (DHB) Nursing and Midwifery Multi-Employer Collective Agreement (MECA) offer.

The union previously recommended the revised MECA, saying it achieves a number of the priorities identified through its members’ feedback on the previous offer, namely surrounding pay, pay equity and safe staffing measures.

Following the vote, industrial services manager Cee Payne said members' "options had narrowed" and that nurses were "having to strike to achieve a better offer that secures additional money into the collective agreement to address outstanding member issues".

Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters said the government had gone as far as it could go. “The nurses have had a real raw nine years. We doubled the offer – we took it to half a billion dollars, plus 500 more nurses and changed [the] pay scale in terms of promotion,” Peters said. "That’s the best we can do in six months or in one budget.”

The 24-hour nationwide strike took place from Thursday 12 July.

Health professionals and the public alike took to Twitter to share their support for the strike.

“Solidarity and love to nurses striking today. My life has been saved many times by a nurse. Pay them what they're worth. Make working conditions safe. Value them. They are angels,” one user wrote.

Another urged the public to recognise that the nurses were acting in the best interests of the country. “Patients are at risk through low staffing and inadequate resourcing far too often. Graduate Nurses get very low salaries, often needing other part-time work to make ends meet.”

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation's Victorian branch also shared its support, saying Aussie nurses and midwives stood behind their New Zealand colleagues.

DHB spokesperson Helen Mason and NZNO have said the two bodies will work together to resolve the issues. Talks are expected to continue next week.

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