Tauranga nurses will be waving banners and placards outside the Tauranga Hospital next week drawing attention to their pay dispute with the District Health Board.
The Tauranga rally is Thursday April 19 from 12pm to 1pm followed by a rally in Whakatane, Friday April 20 from 12pm to 1pm.
Bay of Plenty nurses have rejected a two per cent pay offer, plus a $1050 lump sum; but have not yet voted to strike, says Angela Neal from the New Zealand Nurses Organisation.
“No one will get a $1050,” says Angela. “It will be pro rata. There's very few people who work full time in nursing anymore, because it is too hard. For most of them it will probably be $500, and it's going to be taxed.
“It's going out ‘Oh, they have turned down a thousand and fifty dollars' - well they haven't turned down $1050. No one would have hardly ever got the $1050.”
The industrial action vote is expected to take place later this month, says Angela.
“I see the DHB anticipating that it might be June, it has withdrawn all annual leave for June; withdrawn all education applications, and no body's allowed anything, so I see the DHB is anticipating it is June.”
Getting into nursing requires a three-year degree costing $35,000-45,000, says Angela.
The first year of working is part time, the new nurses are only permitted to work four days a week and with two days for study. And they have to produce a post graduate paper before they can go onto full time work.
“A caregiver at the moment can do a nine week level four course and be on $24.50 an hour, versus a new graduate on $23.71, after doing three year degree. I'm not saying the care givers don't deserve the money. Fair enough, they work really hard for it.
“But it really make a mockery of the degree. The nurses want to be recognised for their qualifications their skills, their expertise – and they do work extremely hard.”
Next week pay negotiations begin with Te Manu Toroa the Maori health provider off Courtney Road. There are about 45 organisation members there.
“Maori providers are often terribly underfunded. We will see how we get on but nurses, social workers and counsellors are paid a lot less than they would be in the mainstream.
“So there's a significant difference in how they are paid. And the DHB funds those.
“It's actually very racist, there's no doubt about it. I don't know how we will get on in those negotiations, but they haven't had a pay rise since 2014, I think.
“And they are significantly behind anything else now. They are at a stage where they have had enough too. They work hard. They have to work with more complex difficult situations, more poverty, and yet they are the most underfunded.
“A lot of them have masters, (degree) nursing post grad papers. They are highly qualified, skilled staff, yet paid poorly.
“That will be an interesting one on top of this because if the DHB nurses are successful and we still can't improve the wages for Maori and iwi providers, we will be doing something about that.
“It would be nice for it to be known. It's been going on in nursing for quite a long time now.”
Nurses in the Western Bay of Plenty have always been highly engaged, says Angela with the region's nurses always experiencing the highest turnouts and the biggest votes.
“We have very active regional (nursing) councils and our Maori nursing group is very active.”