What is going on with NZNO?

May 11, 2022

I am a long-standing workplace delegate. In spite of this, I am unable to answer my own questions, let alone the questions from NZNO members, about “what is going on with NZNO?”

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There seems to be a common thread, whether it is to do with pay equity (PE) or previous MECAs, and that is one of “take this deal now and if you’re good little girls and boys Santa will give you more next time, sometime in the future, we don’t know when, just be patient”. Witness the 2018 and 2021 MECAs.

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It is almost unbelievable that we were presented with the PE proposal without payment for hours worked since December 31, 2019.

We were assured we shouldn’t be concerned that the PE process was taking so long as they wanted to get it right and it would be backdated anyway. As a delegate, I repeated this and I am definitely not into apologising for other people’s shortcomings, at work or for NZNO! (Most of us didn’t actually believe it would be life changing — that’s Lotto).

The agreement that approximately 30,000 nurses thought they had — to be paid for “actual hours worked” — has been ignored by the Government.

How can that be possible?

What’s up with NZNO that it employs its own lawyers and yet couldn’t sew up watertight pay for the “hours worked” deal in 2018 and 2021?

I expect the Government and health bosses to play dirty, but it is almost as if NZNO gets taken by surprise each time it deals with them.

NZNO seems to think it is dealing with employers who are trustworthy and have integrity. This is not the case. That’s why we belong to a union! And that’s not altogether working out for us right now.

We’ve been told the PE offer without “pay for hours worked” is illegal.

Is it not standard practice for a lawyer to examine any agreement before it is submitted to us?

The new CEO dealt with the immediate issue himself, and then only because members pointed out that it was totally unacceptable.

It is a bright speck that we have a CEO who took immediate action to get a speedy independent legal review. That was a breath of fresh air and felt quite unlike “normal” NZNO practice. I hope the CEO’s ability to act expediently for us will not be fettered.

In future, I think NZNO needs to employ a reputable, top, well-briefed employment lawyer on a retainer at negotiation times, with nurses on the team to observe and consult, to get a result we can trust. I’ve been having conversations about class action bypassing NZNO, should the Employment Relations Authority not rule favourably for us. The NZNO board of directors  risk management committee should consider that.

Sam Mojel, RN,
Auckland

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