DHBS requests info on doctors' standoff

District Health Boards are appealing an Employment Relations Authority request they hand over senior doctors' pay information, as part of ongoing pay negotiations with junior doctors.

Last month, the 21 DHBs were ordered by the authority to give pay details to an independent reviewer, to support the DHB claim their offer to the junior doctors is "in line with" the collective agreement offered to the senior doctors.

"The ERA acknowledged our position when it ruled we did not breach our good faith obligations in electing to supply the information to an independent reviewer ... but it did find we didn't fulfil our obligations," said DHB spokesman David Meates.

"The 'independent reviewer' scheme in the legislation has never been tested in the courts and even the ERA describes it as a test case.

"We do not believe the ERA intended confidential settlement details of an agreement with one union to be shared with another - that's what we want to clarify."

DHBs were still hopeful of getting a settlement, and were trying to finalise dates to resume negotiations.

The junior doctors' union, the Resident Doctors Association (NZRDA), had demanded pay details to back the DHBs' claim.

"We wouldn't mind if DHBs just dropped their claim that resident doctors are being offered the same as SMOs (Senior Medical Officers). Then we could get on with negotiations," said NZRDA general secretary Deborah Powell.

"But DHBs continue to state that we should accept their latest offer on the basis that resident doctors are being offered the same deal as our SMO colleagues. But the offer to us doesn't look anything like the offer to SMOs - how can we accept?"

By delaying providing the information, DHBs were also delaying the negotiation process, Dr Powell said.

However, the union was still willing to meet DHBs next week to try and advance the matter.

The DHBs have been locked in an employment dispute with junior doctors since negotiations began in June 2007. More than 2000 junior doctors walked off the job in May, over their claim for a 10 percent pay increase each year for the next three years.

The DHBs are offering a 4.25 percent increase for last year and this year.

However, non-union and new employees will be offered pay rises of just over 8.5 percent for one year.

Resident doctors were "desperate" to restore their Multi-Employer Collective Agreement which expired in June, Dr Powell said.

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