Equal pay win for Canterbury MIQ nurses

April 1, 2021

About 60 NZNO nurses working in Christchurch managed isolation or quarantine (MIQ) facilities will be getting paid the same rates as their Auckland colleagues, after lobbying from NZNO.

NZNO delegates Mary Duggan (left) and Gemma Kelley (right) with organiser Danielle Davies.
Mary Duggan, Danielle Davies and Gemma Kelley – ‘over the moon’ at pay rate move.

Organiser Danielle Davies said she and delegates Mary Duggan and Gemma Kelley were “over the moon” after incoming Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) chief executive Peter Bramley agreed in late March to move the region’s MIQ nurses from the DHB registered nurse (RN) to community nursing scale which has higher pay rates.

“This goes a very long way towards helping our members feeling valued as nurses and employees,” Davies said.

Davies advised the CDHB director of nursing (DoN) Becky Hickmott in February that Auckland MIQ nurses – who are employed on the community nursing scale – were being paid up to $5500 more annually than Canterbury’s, who were on the RN scale. The scales are identical until steps six and seven, on which community nurses are paid higher. It also has eight steps, compared to seven on the RN scale.

The change would take effect from the start of each nurse’s employment in MIQs, meaning back-pay of up to a year ago for some, Davies said. She hoped it would be implemented within a few weeks.

CDHB also agreed to move more than 25 nurses on to the correct salary steps to reflect their years of nursing experience, after Davies found in a survey some were being paid less than they should have been. CDHB also agreed that members seconded into MIQs from the DHB would receive a week of special paid leave before returning to their original role, Davies said.

A four-week notice period for MIQ nurses, as required under the NZNO-DHB collective agreement, was also rectified, as some had been appointed with just a one-week notice period, Davies said.

Hickmott told Davies the DHB wanted to express its “gratitude and respect for all of our nurses working so hard to care for our returning residents and their whānau and protecting the New Zealand borders”.

“The care they provide is exemplary and it is essential for the safety and wellbeing of all New Zealand.”

Davies said she hoped MIQ facilities in Rotorua, Hamilton and Wellington, where nurses were still on RN rates, could now attain pay parity.

Setting a precedent

NZNO organiser Jo Coffey said Christchurch nurses were leading the way and hoped it would set a precedent for other sites.

Davies now planned to keep pushing the CDHB to match incentive payments of up to $6000 per annum made to Auckland’s MIQ nurses, after getting a mandate from members.

Davies said she, Duggan and Kelley had lobbied strongly over the pay disparity, which had the potential to become “highly politicised”.