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National petition reaches Parliament.

NURSES AND midwives literally "drove" their fair pay message to Parliament late last month when they delivered their petition calling for fair pay on board a purple truck. The petition had been signed by 125,000 New Zealanders.

The truck, carrying a hospital bed and festooned with purple balloons and banners, drove from Wellington Hospital through the city and onto Parliament's forecourt. NZNO president Jane O'Malley called on the six MPs present to support the petition and its call for increased funding to DHBs so they could pay nurses and midwives fairly. The petition also calls for sale staffing levels for nurses and patients. "We know the overwhelming majority of New Zealanders support our call and we ask for your support as our representatives in ensuring the call is heard," O'Malley said.

The six petition bags were unloaded from the truck and presented by six delegates to the MPs from six different parties. The delegates were Carol McCord and Lance Kedzlie from Capital and Coast District Health Board (DHB), Diane Maddock from Hutt Valley DHB, Al McDougal from Canterbury DHB, Jo O'Halloran from MidCentral DHB and Jeanette Bell from Waitemata DHB. Each of these DHBs had collected signatures well in excess of their target numbers.

Speaking after the event, NZNO organising services manager Laila Harre said nurses and midwives were in a very strong position this year to settle their claim and she expected it would be settled this year. "In comparison with similar groups, including police, teachers and other health professionals, our research shows nurses and midwives are paid between $7000 and $15,000 a year less than they are worth. Our claim is based, among other things, on achieving equal pay for work of equal value. We believe that the cost to Government of a fair pay settlement could be in the vicinity of $300 million."

Harre warned that unless nurses received fair pay this year, the flow of skilled and experienced nurses from public hospitals would continue. New Zealand was currently short of about 2000 nurses. She was encouraged that the Government had stated it was committed to equal pay for work of equal value in the state sector.

Accepting her bag of petitions, Associate Health Minister Ruth Dyson reiterated her commitment to pay equity and assured nurses that the Government "wanted to progress this issue". Government had given a public commitment to valuing all New Zealand workers, particularly women workers, who received 13 percent less pay than men overall. She expected DHBs to bring the financial implications of the nurses' claim for fair pay to Government, which would then work through these implications with them.

Negotiations for a national, public sector multi-employer collective agreement--the first national agreement for nurses and midwives in over 12 years--began this month. For further details, see industrial focus, p21.
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Title Annotation:news and events
Publication:Kai Tiaki: Nursing New Zealand
Geographic Code:8NEWZ
Date:Jul 1, 2004
Words:468
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