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Health staff set to strike for fair pay


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More than 60 health workers in Wairarapa will strike for fair pay in May.

The Public Service Association [PSA] announced yesterday that the District Health Board [DHB] workforce would work only on contracted hours from May 9 to 20 and would hold a 24-hour strike on May 16.

The strike would affect many health services in Wairarapa, including routine hospital surgeries [all but emergency surgeries], child dental services, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, pharmacies, social workers, and newborn hearing.

The 62 allied health workers would join 10,000 from across New Zealand. The workers involved excluded doctors and nurses.

The strikes resulted from workers waiting for their respective DHBs to table a decent offer to settle their collective agreement, which had taken a year and a half.

PSA local organiser for Wairarapa DHB Caz Thomson said that enough was enough.

“These workers care about health, so to go on strike for them is a big deal.

“They accepted lower pay in the past because they care about what they do, but enough is enough. The cost of living is too big now to accept lower offers.”

She said the sector was losing staff to other workplaces like Bunnings Warehouse for better pay or accepting jobs overseas.

“Now that the borders are open, our staff are being targeted by Australia. Their starting wages are much more than what the workers are earning over here.”

Thomson said the strike was not just about pay but also safe staffing levels.

“These sectors are so understaffed, the workers have been given excessive on-call shifts.


“It’s exhausting. They don’t just have to be available, but if needed having to go into work as well.”

She feared that Australia recruiting Kiwi workers would lead to further understaffing at Wairarapa DHB.

She said the current staff shortage was due to unfilled vacancies, the need for more resources, and an increasing population moving from centres such as Wellington.

PSA national organiser Will Matthews said despite the progress made in negotiations between the PSA and DHBs, it still wasn’t enough.

“We’re at the point where nothing else can be done without the government authorising the DHBs to make a better offer.”

“We’re so close to getting this over the line. Health Minister Andrew Little can change the lives of 10,000 essential workers if he just comes up with a bit more.”

“The window for him to do that without strike action taking place is rapidly closing.”

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