NZNO ‘thrilled’ with PHC MECA vote

March 16, 2021

The proposed primary health care multi-employer collective agreement (PHC MECA) has been overwhelmingly endorsed by members.

Online ratification closed on Monday March 15 and 84 per cent of those who voted were in favour of the deal, which delivers pay increases ranging from 4.5 per cent to 7.75 per cent and locks in a new registered nurse (RN) step 6.

The new PHC MECA was achieved after more than a year of negotiations, strike action and intense lobbying for extra funding by both NZNO and the New Zealand Medical Association and Green Cross Health Ltd on behalf of employers. Initially, more than 10 per cent of employers rejected the deal but this was not enough to disrupt employer ratification.

NZNO advocate, PHC industrial adviser Chris Wilson, is thrilled with the strength of the vote in favour of the deal and said it had seen NZNO membership boosted by more than 200. “I’m very pleased with the outcome. It’s a solid step to finalising pay parity in the next MECA. The collectivity of the membership leaves no doubt that pay parity is a priority and must be achieved. And that collectivity is not to be ignored when more funding is needed in the future.”

She said the additional funding to ensure pay parity with the district health board (DHB) step 6 would not have been forthcoming without PHC members’ hard campaigning and collectivity and employer support.

Details of the pay increases are:

  • registered nurse/practice nurse/midwife scale: a 2.5 per cent increase backdated to January 6, 2020; a further two per cent increase backdated to September 1, 2020; a new step 6;
  • coordinator/lead nurse/nurse team leaders scale: a 2.5 per cent increase backdated to January 6, 2020; a further two per cent increase backdated to September 1, 2020; a further three per cent increase on February 1, 2021;
  • enrolled nurse and medical receptionist/administration staff scales: a 2.5 per cent increase backdated to January 6, 2020; a further two per cent increase backdated to September 1, 2020.

The term of the new MECA is from March 15 to August 31, 2021. It is one of the country’s biggest, covering around 3400 members and close to 500 employers.

Wilson said expectations for the next PHC MECA negotiations would include further advances towards pay parity, for example implementation of step 7 on the RN pay scale. And during the term of the MECA, NZNO and the employers will scope the nature of the nurse practitioner and designated RN prescriber roles in primary care to inform future bargaining.