NZNO bargaining continues across sectors

July 1, 2021

DHB MECA negotiations might have snapped up the limelight, but important work continued in other health sectors in June.

Despite high-profile action happening on the district health board (DHB) multi-employer collective agreement (MECA) front, other NZNO negotiations were taking place around Aotearoa over the past month.

NZNO and HCNZ/NZCare requested mediation services with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, to advance collective bargaining.

The mediation, for a MECA that had been expired for eight months, was confirmed to run on August 3, in Christchurch.

There had been strong support from members after they voted to reject the proposed MECA.

The main themes were passed through to the employers with the aim of progressing a proposed MECA that met members’ demands.

These included: a pay increase that was too low; disparity with DHB MECA wages; a lump sum/back pay that was too low; and unsatisfactory proposals for sick leave, which was too low and would not have immediate implementation.

Two-hospice group approach

Meanwhile in the private hospital and hospice sector, negotiations were continuing on a hospice MECA.

An in-writing employer advocate agreement was awaited – to go ahead along a “two-hospice” group MECA path.

The two separate groups were “4 Group” (consisting of Mary Potter Hospice, Hospice Waikato, Waipuna Hospice and Harbour Hospice) and in the other group the remaining 14 hospices not listed in “4 Group”.

Mediation on the MECA covering the 18 hospices was previously set to run on June 1. It came after a second hospice advocate, representing four of the 18 hospices, joined negotiations.

In April, members rejected an offer made by the hospices. Negotiations have been running since the last MECA expired in August 2020.

Members were keen to see a new step 6 for registered nurses implemented earlier than offered by the hospices. There were also concerns from senior nurses about the scope and nature of their roles.

New month, new MECA

There was no rest in the primary health sector as July would see the need to initiate bargaining for the 2021 MECA.

The last one was two years old – but had only been in place for five months.

As planning started, there were calls to make sure that members working for new employers were contacted to make sure they were included in the bargaining.

Workplaces that were on the existing MECA, but had been sold, were considered a new legal entity, and would no longer be covered by the MECA.

Blood services wait for DHBs

After member feedback, it was agreed with the NZ Blood Service to postpone the next round of bargaining.

New dates would be set once the results of the DHB MECA bargaining became clearer.

Meanwhile collective agreement negotiations for prison health services were also postponed – but for a different reason – after COVID-19 restrictions were put in place in June.

Plunket negotiations were set for a potential decision on July 6, with an online proposed collective agreement ratification ballot closing that afternoon. The vote followed a raft of 13 Zoom meetings for members.

DHB planning underway

Planning has started for further potential strike action around Aotearoa by DHB members in ongoing MECA negotiations.

There had been two days of mediation at the end of June, and a further two days were booked for July 14 and 15.

It was expected that at the mid-July mediation there would be an offer put to the bargaining team.

The NZNO bargaining team was talking with the DHB about options to resolve the pay and staffing claims.

Strikes would potentially run in July, August and September.