Primary care nurses call for pay parity with strike

Primary care nurses took their call for pay parity to southern streets yesterday, picketing to mark a rare strike by the GP clinic and medical centre workers.

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.

Nurse Marg Hamilton flies the flag at a New Zealand Nurses Organisation protest in Dunedin...
Nurse Marg Hamilton flies the flag at a New Zealand Nurses Organisation protest in Dunedin yesterday. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
"It is a very big deal for our nurses to stand in front of the public and to show how passionate they are about primary health care."

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.

Also on strike yesterday are Queenstown Medical Centre nurses (from left) Dee Robinson, Liz...
Also on strike yesterday are Queenstown Medical Centre nurses (from left) Dee Robinson, Liz Taylor, Judy Reid, Natasha Frewen, Sarah Dennis, Suzie Hylton, Tayla Morris and Caro Funnell. Photo: Guy Williams
"We just want to be sure we have a wage that can attract nurses into the PHO system," she said.

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.

Nurses and administration staff from Invercargill and Bluff lined up on Dee St yesterday asking...
Nurses and administration staff from Invercargill and Bluff lined up on Dee St yesterday asking motorists to ‘‘toot for support’’ at the New Zealand Nurses Organisation protest in Invercargill.PHOTO: KAREN PASCO
Staff yesterday rejected a late offer from their employers and the strike — a 24 hour full stoppage — went 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

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