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The latest failure to reach an agreement on pay rises for 27,000 nurses brings strike action another step closer, National’s Health spokesperson Michael Woodhouse says.

“Nurses and DHBs held further mediation last night and failed to reach an agreement following the decision of nurses to reject the DHB’s latest offer.

“The nurses have not accepted the revised pay offer after this Government made it clear it is expecting them to accept the same overall pay packet they were originally unhappy with.

“Before nurses had the chance to decide on the original offer the Government, through the media, told them that the dollar figure on the offer would not shift, even though urgent negotiations were to take place – this is extremely poor form.

“After prioritising $2.8 billion for tertiary fees free and $1 billion for New Zealand First’s provincial slush fund the Government claimed it has ‘gone as far as [it] can in terms of extra Government money’ for nurses.

“This is not good enough. Patients, the New Zealand public and the wider health sector should not have to bear the burden of striking because the Government chose to prioritise election bribes over health.

“It now comes as no surprise that the nurses have rejected the rearranged offer and the ERA have been called in to try and reach an agreement.

“The Government raised expectations for wage increases across a number of sectors including in health and now, in the eleventh hour, the Government needs to find a way to meet these expectations for nurses.

“The situation is not looking good. The strike notice has been issued for the impending July 5th strike which is just eight days away with another notice for July 12 likely to be issued this week.

“The Government will have to do more than shuffle the numbers around to avoid disruptive strike action, especially if the ERA make a recommendation for settlement that is significantly higher than the current offer.”

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