Wins, progress and challenges across industrial sectors as 2021 draws to close

December 1, 2021

The year was a challenging one across the industrial sectors as COVID-19 hit workplaces around Aotearoa.

NZNO DHB members on strike in June in Wellington
NZNO DHB members on strike in June in Wellington

However, 2021 saw a series of solid wins, and ongoing work for members from DHBs to aged care facilities.

The most prominent victory for NZNO was settling the latest district health board (DHB) MECA negotiations.

With a new process in place for negotiations following the 2018 MECA, members stuck together – with strikes and marches showing the Government nurses were serious about improvements to staffing and pay.

The result came after an important Employment Court win for NZNO over life preserving service provision during industrial action.

Unfortunately, even once the deal was struck with DHBs, members had to threaten protests in Canterbury, West Coast and Waikato to ensure wage increases were paid before Christmas.

By time of publication, all DHBs had confirmed pre-Christmas dates for payments, although Bay of Plenty was still dealing with an issue around back pay.

The DHB MECA bargaining was resolved after united action by members
Nurses march earlier this year in the first of a potential series of strikes across the nation.

In hospice bargaining, all but two single employer collective agreements (SECAs), Arohanui and North Haven, were in ratification processes.

Meanwhile, with the year coming to a close, the future was uncertain for residents of an aged care facility in Porirua, north of Wellington.

In November, NZNO and E tū unions appealed to care home provider BUPA to reconsider its proposal to close Harbourview Home.

NZNO organiser Laura Thomas said she questioned the proposed closure of a facility meeting community needs. However, despite the efforts of the community and unions, BUPA announced it would close the facility in 2022.

It came after the owner found weather-tightness problems with the buildings, which would require extensive repairs.

BUPA would work with residents to find alternative rest homes.