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Nurses ready to take more action

Nurses striking outside Wairarapa Hospital last month. PHOTO/FILE

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Wairarapa nursing staff will be joining colleagues across New Zealand in further strike action if ongoing discussions about pay and conditions fail to deliver.

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation said this week its 30,000 members in DHBs had voted in favour of three more strikes, to be held on July 29, August 19, and September 9.

NZNO lead advocate David Wait said members remained resolute about using strike action to achieve the recognition and working conditions needed to ensure nursing remained a viable profession.

“This is a history-making set of actions that could take place over the next few months, but we will be continuing discussions with the DHBs this week and remain committed to securing a deal that is acceptable to our members.”

Nurse practitioner in the emergency department of Wairarapa Hospital Lucy McLaren, said Wairarapa nursing staff were alongside their colleagues nationwide.

McLaren, an NZNO delegate, said working conditions at the hospital were a struggle.

“We are constantly understaffed. The data clearly shows we don’t have enough staff. “

Although approval to recruit had been given, McLaren was unsure where more nursing staff would come from.

“The problem is recruiting to those positions, nurses are leaving.

“People are disheartened. It doesn’t feel like we are being listened to. When they talk about big hospitals and lack of capacity, it’s the same in small hospitals.”

“If one member leaves a team of 40, it’s the same as if three people left a team of 120.

“Nurses are exhausted. The system feels broken.”

McLaren said increasing pay was part of making the profession an attractive choice.

“Why would you go into nursing right now. To go on strike really is the last resort.”

Wait said he was hopeful DHBs were willing to find a solution.

“Progress has been made in our discussions and that has given us some hope a resolution can be found around pay and safe staffing.”

Further discussions were happening with mediation scheduled for next week.

He said the issues facing nursing staff remained real.

“We are facing a national health crisis in terms of safe staffing, recruitment and retention. The working conditions our members face can no longer be endured,” he said.

Wait said if an agreement were not reached, more nurses, midwives, health care assistants, and kaimahi hauora would leave the profession.

“Nursing is a caring profession and it’s heart-breaking nurses feel so undervalued they would choose ongoing strike action. To avoid this, we need the government and DHBs to come up with an offer right now that truly recognises the contribution nurses make and that ensures the future of nursing. This is about the well-being and safety of everyone in Aotearoa
New Zealand.”

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