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The strike by New Zealand Nurses Organisation members was unusual not just because they seldom walk off the job, but because GPs, senior doctors and other leading health industry groups all pledged their support to the nurses’ call for pay parity with their district health board-employed colleagues.
"It is absolutely encouraging and it demonstrates the strong desire for the employers to be able to pay the nurses with parity, and fairly for their qualifications and experience," Dunedin NZNO organiser Colette Wright said.
In Invercargill, about 30 nurses and administration staff from Invercargill and Bluff medical practices protested.
Invercargill Medical Centre clinical nurse lead Toni Day said it was important for her to protest the wage disparity with DHB nurses.
Having worked as a nurse for the past 30 years, she had seen Primary Health Organisation nurses’ wages get further away from their hospital counterparts.
Queenstown Medical Centre nurse team leader Sarah Dennis said its 13-strong team felt "ripped off" that their value was not adequately recognised, especially compared with their DHB counterparts.
The Apex union has confirmed a strike today by Southern Community Laboratories technicians will go ahead.
Southern sites affected are SCL labs in Timaru, Christchurch, Oamaru, Dunedin, Queenstown and Invercargill, and related collection points.
— Additional reporting Karen Pasco, Guy Williams