Hospital midwives who are members of the Midwifery Employee Representation and Advisory Services (MERAS) are voting over
the next two weeks on an offer from the 20 DHBs, to settle their Multi-Employer Collective Agreement (MECA).
Should hospital midwives vote to reject the offer, the ballot also includes a vote on a series of rolling strikes,
starting in Northland and the three Auckland DHBs in the North and Southern DHB in the South from 9-12 August with
another day of industrial action if the negotiations remain unresolved.
Industrial Co-leader, Jill Ovens, says while there have been some significant gains in the offer, the proposed pay
increase has not changed and there is no offer related to backpay despite lengthy delays caused by the DHBs and their
multi-layered approval process.
“Our MECA expired on 31 January this year, but because MERAS members had a pay increase last August 2020, the DHBs have
been arguing the midwives’ next pay rise is not due till 1 August this year. The fact that this last pay increase was
for six months only, and that this was agreed before Covid wage restraints were put in place by the Government, has not
so far moved the DHBs from their hard-line position,” she says.
Ms Ovens adds that MERAS has been taking an equally hard-line position with the DHBs because the union has made every
attempt to conclude the negotiations in a timely manner and yet the full DHBs negotiating team has only met with MERAS
once, in January, and the union has been trying ever since to get the DHBs team to meet the MERAS team for a meaningful
“MERAS is recommending that members reject the DHBs offer. We need to send a message that negotiating with us in good
faith is critical, and midwives are leaving because they feel overworked, undervalued and underpaid. When a midwife
leaves DHB employment and is not replaced, the stress on the remaining midwives grows exponentially as they struggle to
maintain the professional care they are required by law to provide,” she says
Voting closes in two weeks (21st July), and members will be holding paid union meetings to discuss the current offer and