Offer to follow ‘focused’ DHB MECA negotiations

March 1, 2021

Two small teams of negotiators are exploring “ideas and options” for a new NZNO/district health board multi-employer collective agreement (DHB MECA).

The DHB team had presented an “indicative offer of settlement” late last month, but member feedback on it had been overwhelmingly negative, NZNO advocate David Wait said. The negotiating teams then decided to continue discussions about the offer over the course of a week.

Members’ response ‘significant’

“We are taking this as a positive sign. The DHB negotiating team understood the significance of members’ reaction to the offer and wanted to talk more about ideas and options,” he said.

He acknowledged the DHB team would have to find more money to come up with an offer that had any chance of ratification.

“Our view is that members’ response to the serious drawbacks in the indicative offer had a strong impact on the DHB bargaining team,” Wait said.

“Our bargaining team delegates read out a selection of members’ responses that had been posted on Facebook. That was really powerful and brought members’ voices into the negotiations. We were no longer a bargaining team of 15 but a team of 30,000,” he said.

The DHB’s smaller team consists of two negotiators and a director of nursing, and NZNO’s team is Wait, organiser Ron Angel and three delegates.

Wait said shifting to a less formal bargaining setting enabled quicker discussions. At the end of the three days of discussions between the two teams, the full teams were to return to negotiations. Any options the smaller teams came up with would be negotiated by the full bargaining team.

“I expect the DHB team to revise and firm up its offer. Whatever it is, we will take it out for members to consider,” Wait said. “We will then determine our next steps.”

The DHBs’ indicative offer presented last month took a flat rate approach for staff on less than $100,000, while members on pay steps above $100,000 would not receive any increase to rates.