DHBs labouring on award settlements

District health boards are ending the year with a flurry of industrial negotiations involving more than 43,000 employees.

About 3700 senior doctors employed by the 20 boards around the country are considering the proposed settlement of their agreement, which would see the largest increases go to those on the bottom of the specialists' and medical and dental officers' salary scales because the bottom three steps are being removed.

Increases range from 2.8% to 12.4%, but the average increase is 3% to 3.3%.

The district health boards did not want to comment on the detail of that offer while it was still subject to consideration by members of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS).

Boards said they were pleased to have reached an agreement which responded to some shared interests and reflected the parties' wishes to work jointly to improve patient safety and service quality.

Concerns raised by the ASMS about "unhelpful behind-the-scenes involvement" of Health Minister Tony Ryall in the long-running talks, which it suggested came from district health board sources, were not shared by the boards' employment relations strategy group.

DHB spokesman Graham Dyer said it was normal practice for state sector employers to keep government ministers updated as significant pay negotiations proceeded.

After the managed bargaining process, which involved 10 health unions earlier this year - including some of the major ones - the agreement with the Service and Food Workers' Union for 1300 cleaners and service workers has been ratified.

This provided for a 2% lump-sum payment, a further 2.5% increase in wage rates from October next year and the introduction of a common entitlement to a fifth week's annual leave after five years' service.

Settlements of 16 agreements with the Public Service Association were being considered by union members covering more than 17,000 employees.

These were also based on the outcomes of the managed bargaining process, Mr Dyer said.

Settlements of a further 26 agreements with general unions, based on managed bargaining and covering several hundred employees, were also under consideration.

Bargaining was continuing with the New Zealand Nurses' Organisation, involving about 20,500 employees. Nurses had rejected the outcome of the managed bargaining process.

The Association of Professional and Executive Employees (Apex) medical radiation technologists (850), and the Medical Laboratory Workers' Union (1000) have also entered negotiations.

Mr Dyer said the boards considered these negotiations were proceeding positively.



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