'Absolutely furious': Pay freeze prompts nurses to strike

Nearly 30,000 nurses from across the country are due to strike in June. Photo: NZ Herald/File
Nearly 30,000 nurses from across the country are due to strike in June. Photo: NZ Herald/File
Tens of thousands of nurses from across the country are set to walk off the job for eight hours next month - "absolutely furious" at the Government's three-year pay rise freeze.

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) union has confirmed 30,000 district health board nurses voted to strike on June 9.

Those in Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) would not strike but those working as a part of the vaccination rollout would. The union says DHBs have been given ample notice to make alternative arrangements for the eight-hour period.

David Wait, lead advocate and NZNO industrial advisor, said they did not strike on a whim and cared deeply for their patients but the time has come for a clear statement to be made.

"If nurses are not valued and appreciated, they will leave nursing or move overseas, and few young people will be joining the profession to replace them."

He said union members were angry and frustrated at the first DHB offer received last month which would have seen most members get a 1.38 percent increase, just under the rate of inflation.

"This is despite the incredible sacrifices they made in 2020 to keep the country safe from Covid-19."

Negotiations between the union and DHBs have been under way since June last year.

Wait said members were "absolutely furious" at the Government's wage restraint announcement that would effectively freeze their wages for three years, as most have already progressed to the last step of their pay scale.

Mediation between the union and DHBs was still scheduled for May 18 -19, and Wait said there was still hope of finding a solution to avoid a strike.

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