Primary health care: Some employers reject MECA deal

February 1, 2021

More than 10 per cent of employers covered by the primary health care multi-employer collective agreement (PHC MECA) have rejected the terms of the proposed deal.

Chris Wilson
Members’ collectivity guaranteed the improved offer – Chris Wilson

And 35 employers had not ratified the deal by the time Kai Tiaki Nursing New Zealand went to press. Around 650 members work for the 85 employers who have rejected or not ratified the offer. But more than 67 per cent (over 400) of employers – the acceptance threshold – ratified the offer.

The PHC MECA offer – made possible by increased Ministry of Health (MoH) and district health board (DHB) funding – includes pay increases ranging from 4.5 per cent to 7.75 per cent and locks in a new registered nurse (RN) step 6. This new step will be implemented from February 1 this year and will be paid at $36.02 an hour – matching the current DHB rate. It will deliver a 7.75 per cent increase on the pay rate for step five in the current PHC MECA. Employees who have been on step 5 for a year or more at February 1 this year will move to step 6 on that date.

NZNO PHC industrial adviser Chris Wilson was disappointed in the number of employers who had either not ratified the offer or rejected it. Among those employers who rejected the offer, two main reasons had emerged, she said. One was that the MoH and DHBs had given no guarantee of future funding; the other that employers did not support the offer being restricted to NZNO members.

Wilson said both reasons did not stand up to scrutiny. “The ministry and DHBs have given no indication that funding will be discontinued. Discussions are continuing on the basis that the parties will get together and confirm funding in the new funding year in July. And the ministry and DHBs made the additional funding available on the basis that it would only apply to NZNO members,” she explained.

She pointed out it was NZNO members who had fought long and hard to achieve the improved offer.

NZNO will now enter “serious negotiations” with the employers who have rejected or who have not ratified the offer. Because of the high number, this would take time and soak up NZNO resources. This meant the online ratification process for NZNO members would not start until late this month, she said.

If the proposed settlement is ratified by NZNO members, it will expire on August 31. Wilson said there were two further opportunities this year to improve the MECA – once the NZNO DHB MECA negotiations had been completed and once the DHB pay equity settlement was concluded, the latter expected to be mid-year.

Wilson said the additional funding to ensure an improved offer would not have been forthcoming without NZNO members’ hard campaign and collectivity and without the strong support of most employers.

Details of the the pay increases are:

  • RN/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 leader 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.