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More than 1900 nurses, healthcare assistants and midwives at Southern District Health Board have joined their colleagues around the country in voting down a DHB-proposed collective agreement.
New Zealand Nurses Organisation industrial adviser Lesley Harry said the workers were upset the proposed wage increase was only half that being offered to other state sector workers.
''It's fair to say the 1% first-year pay increase they've offered is inadequate, because it comes off the back of just a 1% raise in 2014.''
She said other state sector workers were being offered wage increases of around 2%, but not those in the health sector.
''And we don't think that's fair. I don't believe anything less than 2% is going to cut it.''
There were other issues besides pay which were causing conflicts with the health boards, she said. Top of the list was continuing staff shortages, which left workers feeling ''duty bound'' to work longer hours than they were contracted to, Ms Harry said.
The NZNO would be taking its members' issues back to the negotiating table on Thursday.