Resident doctors' association, DHBs end acrimonious dispute

One of the longest-running and most bitter health sector employment disputes ended yesterday after the New Zealand Resident Doctors' Association agreed a new employment contract with district health boards.

Association members, for the most part junior hospital doctors, staged a series of two-day strikes earlier this year.

Fortnightly industrial action culminated in April with a five-day strike, believed to be the longest stop-work staged by New Zealand doctors.

Parties then took part in extensive facilitation talks convened by the Employment Relations Authority.

After 11 day-long meetings over a two-month period the union agreed to put an offer to members, who voted to ratify the agreement.

"The ERA's recommendations included a new change management process ensuring the NZRDA and its members are fully involved in any proposal to change working arrangements,'' union senior advocate David Munro said.

The main dispute between doctors and DHBs was over "safe staffing'' rosters.

The DHBs wanted to be able to alter rosters to allow greater flexibility, while the union opposed any alteration to work conditions.

Hundreds of elective operations were postponed during the strike and DHBs had to absorb t the costs of senior doctors brought in to provide cover for their striking junior colleagues.

Southern DHB chief executive Chris Fleming said he was pleased the dispute was over.

"Each strike impacted the services we provide to the public, and this has been difficult for both our patients and staff,'' Mr Fleming said.


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