Nurses vote to strike on June 9

May 14, 2021

NZNO members working in District Health Boards (DHBs) have “overwhelmingly” voted to strike after rejecting last month’s offer in multi-employer collective agreement (MECA) negotiations.

NZNO lead advocate David Wait said members – already angry over the first DHB offer – became “absolutely furious” after the Government’s May 5 public wage restraint announcement for workers earning over $60,000.

Wait said that would “effectively freeze their wages for three years as most have already progressed to the last step of their pay scale”.

Voter turnout was “very high” to the May 3-13 strike ballot, with results “overwhelmingly” in favour of an eight-hour strike.

The nationwide strike would run from 11am to 7pm on June 9.

“We heard how angry and frustrated so many of you were at the first DHB offer received,” Wait said. That would have given nurses “little more than 1.38 per cent – just under the rate of inflation”, he said. “This is despite the incredible sacrifices you made in 2020 to keep the country safe from COVID-19.”

But it was about much more than money, he said. “Nurses, midwives, health care assistants and kaimahi hauora have been working under horrific and unsafe staffing conditions for a long time, made much worse by the pandemic, and they are genuinely worried about the future of the nursing profession.”

NZNO would now be issuing strike notices to all the country’s DHBs.

Members in managed isolation and quarantine facilities would not participate in the strike. However those involved in the COVID-19 vaccination rollout would not be exempt, he said. “DHBs have been given ample notice to make alternative arrangements…” Wait said.

Mediation between NZNO and DHBs was scheduled for May 18-19. NZNO was giving 23 days’ strike notice – more than the required 14 days – which allowed time for a strike to be called off should a revised offer be made and ratified by members before June 9, Wait has said.

NZNO would be “actively searching for solutions” to avert strike action, while focusing on achieving an offer that met members’ “collective expectations”, he said.

The government announced this month a three-year pay freeze extension for public service workers earning more than $60,000. This included nurses, doctors, teachers and police.


Members are invited to a livestream on Monday May 17 from 7.00 to 7.30pm on the NZNO official Facebook page, where Wait and other members of the negotiating team will share what NZNO is looking for in the negotiations.