Local nurses add voices to national pay protest

Nurses from Lakes District Hospital protest on Kawarau Rd yesterday. PHOTO: GUY WILLIAMS
Nurses from Lakes District Hospital protest on Kawarau Rd yesterday. PHOTO: GUY WILLIAMS
Queenstown nurses have joined a national campaign of protests over their latest pay offer from district health boards.

About 10 nurses - a third of Lakes District Hospital's registered nursing staff - waved flags and placards to motorists on Kawarau Rd in Frankton yesterday afternoon.

New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) organiser Lorraine Lobb, of Dunedin, said the protest was the latest in a series throughout the country over the past fortnight calling for the public's support for nurses' fight for better pay and conditions.

Last month, nurses voted to reject a second pay offer from DHBs, which proposed a 2% pay rise as well as a $1050 lump sum for the country's 27,000 nurses, hospital aides and core midwives.

Jeanette Anderson, a registered nurse who has worked at Lakes District Hospital for nearly 12 years, said that she and her colleagues were seeking the support of the public for the campaign, and had been getting ``lots of toots''.

Nurses were becoming increasingly stressed and fatigued as their workload increased, and morale was suffering as a result, Ms Anderson said.

They wanted the Government to invest more in nurses, who were the largest workforce in the public health system.

Mrs Lobb said the next step was preparing a submission to an independent panel, chaired by former Labour minister Margaret Wilson, which was appointed earlier this month to examine the issue.

Nurses began voting on Monday on whether to take strike action, Mrs Lobb said.

The NZNO has told its members to consider two strikes of 24 hours each, to occur a week apart, possibly in July.

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