Nurses accept new DHB offer after lengthy negotiations

Anna Whyte
Source: 1News

Nurses have accepted their latest employment offer after 15 months of negotiations. 

Nurses (file photo).

More than 80 per cent voted in favour.

Lead advocate David Wait was pleased to have received an offer that addressed pay issues and made progress towards safe staffing.

"We also have a DHB contractual obligation to safe staffing, with a legally enforceable escalation pathway when members’ concerns aren’t addressed," he said. 

The pay increase mainly was from down payments from the nurses' pay equity settlement, due to be completed in November, "but the early lump sum payments are substantial," he said. 

"Together with new employment commitments these are steps towards addressing the staffing crisis and making nursing an attractive profession again."

Heath Minister Andrew Little said the offer from the DHBs "deals with the immediate issue of making sure nurses get a pay rise, but I also acknowledge that we still have to conclude their pay-equity claim".

"Pay equity is what will really make a difference to nurses and others and I look forward to progress in those negotiations, which are currently under way."

He said there was a review underway on safe staffing. 

Nurses were set to strike in August, after rejecting the last offer. It was called off as the first community Delta case was detected two days before the scheduled strike. 

At the time, Wait said the rejected pay offer failed "to set out clearly how safe staffing will be addressed and how the DHBs will be held accountable for it". 

Little criticised the decision, saying members had "rejected their own union's proposal".

Little acknowledged nurses' concerns around working on short-staffed shifts, working extra hours and that a high patient numbers had made the profession "more stressful than ever".

The collective agreement period goes until October 21, 2022.