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Deal offers 4.5 per cent.

A 4.5 per cent pay increase--with two per cent from March 1 this year--over a three-year term is the heart of the proposed district health board (DHB)/NZNO multi-employer collective agreement (MECA) settlement offer, finalised early this year. Members are voting on the offer this month and DHB chief executives have already approved it.

NZNO advocate Lesley Harry believes the offer is the best possible in the current climate--"without a doubt, it's as far as we can go". NZNO's negotiating team is recommending it.

The offer comes after ten days of interest-based bargaining, following NZNO members' rejection of the offer achieved through managed bargaining involving ten unions and tasting eight weeks.

Other key features of the proposed deal are:

* a 1.5 per cent pay increase from March 1, 2013;

* a one per cent pay rise from March 1, 2014;

* term from March 1, 2012 (previous MECA expired on September 30, 2011) to February 28, 2015;

* a one-off rump sum of $500 for enrolled nurses (ENs) who transition to extended scope by June 30 this year (pro-rata for part-time staff);

* a goat of having most DHBs on care capacity demand management (CCDM) programme by end of 2013; and

* strengthening local and national processes for more progress towards healthy workplaces.

Harry said the interest-based bargaining process was "extremely thorough. No stone was left unturned by both sides. If it was dear an option would not get past go, we looked at other ways to reach a compatible solution. Our team's yardstick was always 'Is this ratifiable? The team unanimously agreed to recommend the dear after careful consideration of the political environment and the options we had already been through. We had exhausted the process."

When members rejected the original deal, they also identified priorities for any new dear. These included a Fair wage increase, with no rump sums; a wider focus than just CCDM when considering safe staffing and healthy workplaces; some recognition for ENs working in the extended scope; and a nationally consistent professional development and recognition programme (PDRP), with money attached, for senior nurses.

"They were our guidelines and white we've not achieved everything, we've made very substantial progress," Harry said. "The requirement that art focal joint action groups and the national bipartite action group (BAG) explore solutions for safe staffing and healthy workplaces as a top priority, along with the other recommendations, is an absolute win. The onus is back on NZNO to ensure these processes are followed."

The PDRP issue rests with the BAG. It will gather information to find out why DHBs are having difficulties releasing nurses and midwives to complete PDRP and other professional development requirements, and took at solutions.

Advantages of longer term

Harry said there were a number of advantages to a longer term. "It will ensure none of the government's proposed employment law changes, eg dismantling MECAs, will apply. It protects the MECA for the long term. And it gave us more options in terms of establishing the amount of the pay increase and that was appearing."

NZNO members' mandate to the negotiating team, to escalate issues if no progress was made, was an incentive for the DHB team to secure a dear. "White negotiations weren't always amicable--there were times of rear tension--there was a rear commitment to getting a dear. The facilitator Mark McGinn played an important rote in keeping the process on track," Harry said.

Lead advocate for the DHB Shared Services (DHBSS) team, Kevin McFadgen, said interest-based bargaining had gone well. "We've used it before and we have a good relationship with NNZO, so all the issues were pretty much out in the open. The facilitator prayed a useful role."

McFadgen believes the proposed dear is a fair one. "It's a good dear for NZNO members and the DHBs. The employment relations strategy group in DHBSS is happy with it."

Ratification meetings are from February 14 to March 1 and Harry hopes for a convincing turnout of members.
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Title Annotation:NEWS AND EVENTS
Publication:Kai Tiaki: Nursing New Zealand
Geographic Code:8NEWZ
Date:Feb 1, 2012
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