Primary health care: Family Planning members to strike

February 1, 2021

NZNO members working for Family Planning (FP) will strike for 24 hours this month, from 7am on Tuesday February 16 – the first-ever such action at FP. NZNO served the strike notice late last month.

NZNO primary health care (PHC) industrial adviser Chris Wilson said the members – there are about 100 around the country – were very determined. They rejected FP’s last offer of a three per cent increase for nurses and health promoters, to be back dated to April 1, 2020, and increases ranging from 3.75 per cent to 4.7 per cent for administrative staff.

Pay parity with the NZNO/district health board multi-employer collective agreement (DHB MECA) is the central claim. But Wilson pointed out that it was a complex situation as there was no direct linkage between the DHB MECA pay scales and the pay levels of FP nurses. Adding to the complexity was the autonomy in practice and procedures enjoyed by FP nurses, who must also be registered prescribers to achieve level 3 on the FP pay scale. “FP nurses have more autonomy than most nurses working in an inpatient setting.”

The increases for administrative staff did not bring them all up to the living wage, currently $22.10 an hour.

Wilson said there was “no doubt” the continued underfunding of FP had “left the organisation unable to offer the desired increase. We would like to see some strong collaboration about how to approach this in terms of the new Government”.

Since the overwhelming vote in support of strike action, FP had begun some background work on where nurses’ pay rates should be pitched vis a vis the DHB MECA rates, Wilson said. “This will inform any next steps.”

The current FP collective agreement expired on April 1, 2020.