Nurses Appalled by Canterbury DHB Suggestion
The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) is appalled by the suggestion from Canterbury District Health Board that New
Zealand health workers should be denied the right to take strike action. Such a move would not only diminish our health
professionals’ human rights but also put them at a significant disadvantage in relation to their employers.
NZNO, New Zealand’s largest health sector union, has recently initiated bargaining for a multi-employer collective
agreement with the 21 DHBs. NZNO members have endorsed a responsible approach to bargaining, using issues-based claims
and seeking a problem solving approach to negotiations. NZNO wants to work with DHBs to find solutions to the issues
Public Sector nurses face in their careers.
Organising Services Manager, Cee Payne-Harker, says that removing the workers’ right to strike shifts the balance of
power firmly onto the employers’ side of the negotiating table. “Changing the legislation would be an unfair penalty
against our members. The ERA gives us a more level playing field and helps keep our talented professionals here at home.
Do we really want more nurses looking offshore?”
Cee Payne-Harker says that NZNO understands and acknowledges the anxiety caused by industrial action in the Health
Sector. “All CTU affiliated unions take a thoughtful approach to striking. All the implications are considered before
any decision to withdraw service is made. Striking is never the first option. It is wrong to suggest that unions want to
hold employers to ransom in negotiations. Our members feel a great sense of responsibility to patients, the public and
NZNO wants to avoid the “hardball” approach to negotiations. NZNO looks forward to bargaining in good faith with the
DHBs and working with them towards a fair outcome for nurses and the New Zealand health system. NZNO believes the ERA
provides the industrial relations environment for this to happen.