The collective agreement ratified in August by members of the New Zealand Nurses Organisation Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa (NZNO) who work for Te Whatu Ora will expire in less than a year and the union says these members have unfinished business with their employer.
NZNO Chief Executive Paul Goulter said NZNO Te Whatu Ora members are committed to continuing pressure for the nursing workforce to be valued, specifically around such issues as nurse-to-patient ratios, safe staffing levels, health and safety at work and meaningful pay and pay rises.
“Our Te Whatu Ora members will be attending around 40 paid union meetings (originally known as ‘stop works’) from 27 November to 1 December. The purpose of the meetings is to put the new Government and Te Whatu Ora on notice that they must increase funding to the health sector and fix the nursing shortage.”
The new Government is planning to release a mini-Budget in December that will shape public spending for the next three years, and Paul Goulter says Health needs to top the list of Government spending priorities in that mini-Budget.
“NZNO needs to be part of that conversation to help ensure everything is being done to secure 4000+ extra nurses and health care workers. Ultimately our patients will pay the price for hospitals that are continuously understaffed and under-resourced.”
Paul Goulter says the meetings will also mark the start of the campaign around the 2024 collective agreement and members will discuss how they will continue the fight for safe staffing in 2024.
“Te Whatu and the new Government must meet our demands in order to ensure the wellbeing of our staff, patients and health system.
“Te Whatu Ora has an obligation to provide a safe and properly staffed workplace and we intend to hold them to that obligation.”
He said that according to the Employment Relations Act, arrangements will be made with Te Whatu Ora to have enough staff on hand to keep health workplaces functioning during meeting times.