Strike threats in health concern

The long-running radiographers' dispute has been settled, but people on both sides of the issue are calling for scrutiny of industrial relations processes.

Among the concerns of the Association of Professionals and Executive Employees is that the district health boards made many costing errors throughout the negotiation process, mistakes which needlessly added nine months to the industrial action.

The association is urging Health Minister Tony Ryall to take a "good hard look" at boards' industrial relations processes.

Southern District Health Board chief medical officer Richard Bunton said he was happy a settlement had been reached.

It would allow "normality to resume", he said.

He hoped the year's long dispute would lead to further consideration of whether restrictions on strike action should be placed on health workers involved in acute care.

He would like to see compulsory arbitration for such workers if they could not reach agreement.

Even though the conditions covered by protocols to protect patients had been extended beyond life and death situations he still considered a strike a potentially dangerous practice.

The radiographers' settlement includes a 2.5% pay rise with an expiry date for the agreement in September 2011.

There are also increases in on-call payments by between $1.50 and $3.50 an hour, improved progression for more senior radiographers to a higher salary level, additional salary steps for those training in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), $62.40 incidentals payment for those required to work away from their base department, and full reimbursement of continuing professional development costs for mammographers undertaking the breast screening programme.

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