New Zealand’s Resident Doctors have been in negotiation for the renewal of the MECA (Multi Employer Collective Employment Agreement) for over a year now, with the key issue having been safer rosters for Resident Doctors. The MECA expired in February 2016 and at the end of February 2017, unless agreement is reached before then, ceases to exist.
The deal that was reached at the bargaining table yesterday is substantially the same as that agreed on January 12th 2017, with only some clarification and editing since then. The one remaining barrier to settlement however is an employers’ claw back to a provision that has existed in the agreement for over twenty years. The DHBs are demanding the ability to impose changes to the doctors’ job descriptions (known by resident doctors as "run descriptions") without gaining prior agreement from them.
The parties have agreed to meet next Tuesday, 21st February in an effort to resolve this outstanding matter.
The proposed settlement for safer rostering is in summary:
- The identified rosters must comply with the agreed limits on hours which include:
o Doctors will not be required to work more than 10 consecutive days and will be rostered a corresponding day off during the week for each weekend day worked. This will result in doctors on the identified rosters having 4 rostered days off in a fortnight;
o Doctors will be rostered no more than 4 consecutive night shifts of up to 10 hours, with stipulated recovery time post nights;
o A new provision will allow doctors to work back to back weekends however some rostered days off will adjoin weekends where the doctor is not working to maximise the opportunity for meaningful time off;
o The format of the rosters will be decided locally, between local DHB management and the resident doctors working on that roster;
- When a resident doctor has rostered days off during the week (because they have worked the weekend) there will be a corresponding drop in pay of between $192.00 and $342.00 a day (depending on salary level/seniority of the doctor);
- The MECA which expired in February 2016 will remain in force until February 2018;
- A 1.5% pay rise effective February 2017 and an increase in the rates paid when a resident doctor carries out work over and above that described in their job (run) description.
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