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Lesley Harry talks about DHB MECA

DHB MECA bargaining process

Lesley Harry Industrial Adviser

NZNO has a responsibility to uphold its democratic decision making processes and is obliged not to be swayed by influences outside of those processes, including comments on social media.

Social media offers opportunities for engagement on issues that matter to members but is sometimes used to misinform and influence NZNO’s democratic decision making processes.   NZNO has an obligation to act in good faith during bargaining with both employers and members.  Suggestions on social media that members have in the past been coerced to vote in a particular way is incorrect and unhelpful.  A recommendation from the negotiating team and informing members of the options before voting takes place does not equate to telling members how to vote.

The negotiating team when considering its recommendation takes into account a range of important considerations. The reasons for any recommendation is provided before voting takes place. This is so members are able to make an informed decision and not to tell members how to vote.  To suggest otherwise denigrates the collective intelligence of members and voting process itself.

A decision to take industrial action is also one that members must collectively decide on. Such action should never be taken lightly and the required process must be carried out with considerable care to avoid the potential of a legal challenge by employers.  Strike action may only occur after another secret ballot is held following members rejection of the employers offer or subsequent offers. The parties are required to attend mediation first so the process requires us to follow each step and this does take time.    Some comments on social media suggest that strike action may occur at whim and without the need to follow due process, this is simply not the case.

To clarify what happened in 2015, two sets of ratification meetings were held. The negotiating team decided not to recommend the initial offer which members voted against.  As part of that process members were asked why they rejected the offer. Further negotiations were held which did not deliver on the key issues identified by members. The parties attended mediation which led to an improved offer.

Based on the feedback from the first vote and member turnout, the team decided to recommend that offer.  It is always important for the negotiating team to have an indication that members would indeed support industrial action and meeting attendance is one important consideration.  Voting by secret ballot follows a full presentation of an offer and options for the next steps.   Here is what was presented to members at both sets of ratification meetings last time and no doubt a similar message will be presented to members at ratification meetings soon.

Options for voting outcome

 If the offer is accepted then we will complete and sign the MECA as soon as possible.

 If the offer is rejected then we will seek and attend urgent mediation to attempt to improve the offer. We would hope the DHBs would indeed respond to members views.

 If an improved offer is not achieved then we will be coming back for your support for an action plan which may include balloting for some form of industrial action.

 

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NZNO celebrates World Smokefree Day by lodging our smokefree services petition

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Today, the 31st of May is World Smokefree Day. Every year the Health Promotion Agency puts out great resources for people want to quit smoking and stay off tobacco for good. They have infographics to download and motivational facts like the one below. Not many people know that smoking makes you deaf!

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Researchers have identified though that without further big changes, New Zealand will not reach our smokefree 2025 goal, particularly for Māori and Pacific communities. That’s why NZNO was distressed when we heard last year that funding for some iwi and community smoking cessation providers was being cut, as well as for advocacy services like the Smokefree Coalition. NZNO Kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku said ““It doesn’t make any sense that on the one hand the Government supports the goal of Smokefree Aotearoa 2025, but on the other is pulling funding out of Smokefree advocacy services including the Smokefree Coalition, ASH and Smokefree Nurses. Every day we see the effects of smoking on our patients’ physical and mental health, and the social, economic and cultural wellbeing of their whanau. It’s heartbreaking.”

Nurses working to stop smoking in the community say they need advocacy and specialist services to refer patients to and reinforce their stop smoking message. Porirua Community Union’s Litia Gibson talked about the need for these services to NZNO last year in this video. “Any cut will affect all our services. Because it’s not just the services we provide, it’s the patients and the populations that we are caring for who are already in vulnerable positions.”

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NZNO decided to run a petition with Together, the digital campaigning arm of the Council of Trade Unions, to ask for more funding for these services. Today, we delivered 1823 signed names of nurses, caregivers, midwives, kaimahi hauora and their supporters to Marama Fox MP, in recognition of the longstanding work that she and her predecessors in parliament have done on ending smoking in New Zealand.

Litia and Marama had a little chat afterwards where Litia broke down the issues around referral services and increasing workload for nurses. “Without specialist services, we don’t have the time. You need to pack so much into an appointment, because with health funding where it is, community need is so great.”

Marama agreed on the need appropriate smokefree services and the future benefit this can bring to our country. “Being smokefree puts real money back in the hands of whānau. It protects our future generations, and ensures they don’t have to make the same decision to quit because they never start. It’s all about whānau.”

Marama had brought along a beautiful kete to put our petition in and present it to parliament. Litia in return swapped her red flower to put in the MP’s hair for the afternoon- ‘There, now your outfit is complete!’


We are proud that a little bit of NZNO is being delivered to parliament on World Smokefree day to support our Smokefree 2025 goal. Kia kaha koutou, thank you for supporting this mahi. Your names are now part of history.

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Older people deserve a little more of our time

Lyn Shirley is a Registered Nurse who works in aged care. She is also a Shout Out member leader and delegate for NZNO. Lyn’s involvement in Shout Out for Health led her to speak to M.P.s about how health under-funding is affecting the aged care sector. A public meeting in Nelson held by two political parties was the perfect opportunity for her share her nursing experience.

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“I feel very strongly that the issues nurses and other staff face in aged care need to be better understood by politicians and the public. Both staff and residents are impacted by under-funding and short-staffing, as is the whole of the health sector. With an aging population, more families will have to experience these problems soon if we don’t better plan and fund services now.

Elderly people who have just entered an aged care setting are vulnerable. They are more often high needs or even in end of life care. Nurses and other staff need to spend time with them to reassure them about the journey they are going through, moving out of their own homes and away from their communities and the people they know. Sometimes they can be confused about what is happening with their health. This is why it’s really important there are enough staff who can explain to them clearly and calmly what we are doing for them. For this to happen in aged care we need more government funding. All MPs need to be aware of our situation. After all, they may well be in an aged care home one day too!

Way back in 2011 I was involved in the Caring Counts report on the aged care sector, and I didn’t know what had happened to the recommendations of that report. I suspected not a lot, given my experiences working in the sector.

When there was a public meeting in Nelson on aged care earlier this year, I was keen to go. Labour Deputy Leader at the time, Annette King and Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei were speaking and answering questions from people at the meeting, as well as Rachel Boyack, the new Labour candidate for Nelson. The public comments at the meeting matched my own experiences as a nurse working in aged care – it really validates our clinical expertise on the need for safe staffing for our elderly. There were a couple of student nurses there too who spoke with passion and confidence about the issues facing our sector.

After the meeting I managed to speak directly to an MP about some of these continuing issues; the inadequate staffing levels, the increasing workload due to the residents being more unwell, and problems with the way people entering care are assessed.

I spoke about needing more time to carry out the social and clinical assessments and interventions that we have trained for, and that it was so important in our jobs not to be rushed. This is how to treat the patients with the dignity they deserve. I also described how as nurses we need to not be so overburdened with work that we barely have time to think. The paperwork required of registered nurse has become more demanding. On some days I could be on the computer for hours, taking valuable time away from caring for the residents. I became a nurse to deliver care, not just reports!

We need more nurses to work in aged care. I know a lot of nurses in aged care experience moral distress and burnout when they can’t act in their patient’s best interests because they are short on staff, equipment, and time. We are experts in our own jobs. Part of being the best advocates for our patients is making sure their issues, and ours, get through to decision makers.

I felt really good being able to share just a little of my experiences and hearing others do the same at this meeting. I encourage our other members to make an appointment with their MP too. It’s a simple way you can get your voice heard, and your local NZNO staff will support you.”

To take action on health funding, contact your local NZNO office to be put in touch with a member leader like Lyn, or plan your own MP visit with the help of your local staff. You can also sign the open letter on health funding by leaving a comment at the bottom of this blog post.


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Where to next on pay equity/equal pay?

This blog is by Cee Payne, Industrial Services Manager for NZNO. Cee represented NZNO as part of the cross union bargaining team in the hard – won settlement offer for caregivers. Here she outlines some issues with the new proposed law, and what NZNO members can do to make it better.

IMG_5116Excitement at the pay offer settlement announcement for caregivers. Cee is pictured centre in the red skirt in front of Memo Musa, NZNO CE, Grant Brookes NZNO President at left, and NZNO caregiver members.

Pay equity/equal pay has been on a roller coaster ride in the last few weeks in New Zealand. First, we had the historic announcement of the Government’s $2 billion offer of settlement for Kristine Bartlett’s pay equity case for caregivers. The mood from caregivers across the motu was one of total relief and celebration. These women have been waiting so long on the minimum wage or close to it for better recognition of their value. It felt like the confetti had barely settled the very next day when the Government announced they were introducing a new draft Employment (Pay Equity/Equal Pay) law. This law includes a new ‘principle’ –the ‘proximity principle’ – that could have stopped Kristine’s case from ever happening

The mood of celebration turned into a gasp of disbelief from many of our members, who understandably worry about what this means for them. Unions were just as upset at both the message and the timing. The really annoying thing is that apart from this problem and a few other issues we can improve on, the new law sets out a better and easier process for making future pay equity/equal pay claims. It means other groups of women don’t have to go through many expensive rounds of court battles to achieve pay equity/equal pay.

I was one of the negotiators on the pay equity settlement for care and support workers and on the cross union, government and business equal pay principles working group. We had nearly two full – on years of research, meetings, and consultation to get the result we did for care and support workers. And although it was a long process, I believe the principles we used can work, if they are not restricted by this new ‘proximity principle’. In fact, New Zealand will probably have the best pay equity/equal pay law in the world if we can sort this out.

Kristine and the negotiation team signing the terms of settlement of the pay equity offer for caregivers in the Beehive, Monday the 2nd of May 2017. Cee is signing on behalf of NZNO.

Pay equity is being paid fairly for different jobs that are similar, and equal pay is being paid the same as men for the same work. What the Government is proposing for pay equity is that for women in historically female dominated jobs you have to first find a relevant male-dominated job to compare yours to in your own workplace. Then if there is no relevant job available, you can look in your own industry before you can look outside your sector at other jobs done mostly by men with the same or similar skills, training and responsibilities. So for Kristine Bartlett for example, her employer wanted to argue she should be compared to a gardener working at a rest home. But wages are low across the whole aged care sector because it is female dominated, so her union E tū thought she should be compared to a Corrections Officer-a better fit for her skills, responsibility, effort and conditions of work. These male dominated jobs are called ‘comparators’.

Finding the best comparator or even multiple comparators can be a long process but it’s an important one to get right. There will be no perfect male-dominated equivalent, so you might need to take one job for the qualifications, another for the effort, and a third for similar conditions of work to make your case. NZNO believes it’s really important we find the best job, not the physically closest, especially since so much of the health sector is female dominated. Otherwise, equal pay cases could be artificially restricted by the same discrimination we are trying to re-balance.

The good news is it’s not too late. The Government is taking submissions on the new law until the 11th of May before it has to start going through parliament. The more people that write to them, the better chance of removing this new principle to get the fairest comparators. It is imperative the Government passes the best pay equity/equal pay law in Aotearoa/New Zealand.

We don’t know yet which other parts of the membership could be eligible for cases in the future, or if police, engineers, or any other job would be the best ‘comparator’. NZNO is committed to 100% of our members who are performing work historically undertaken by women achieving pay equity/ equal pay. There are existing pay inequalities between different groups of our membership, and we need to carefully go through each group once we have the new law. Any case of course would involve significant consultation with and campaigning from members, just like we did with caregivers.

But right now the most important thing for all future cases is getting a fair and sustainable law that works. For that we need your support. If you feel passionate about women being paid for their worth and ending gender discrimination forever, write to the Government right now and tell them why you don’t support the ‘proximity principle’ before they write it into the law. Send us a copy of what you said too by emailing nurses@nzno.org.nz. It could be the best invested 5 minutes of your life.

 


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An open letter to New Zealand voters.

blog banner open letterPictured- NZNO members and Registered Nurses Phoenix and Michael.

 

This year, we are asking for your help.

This isn’t something people working in healthcare would normally do – it’s usually the other way around. We help you in your time of need – in your hospitals, your Plunket office, your home, your marae and in your community. We love our skilled work, and turning your worst day into a better day. When you are sick, injured or in need of support, you can turn to us for healing, comfort and safety. We help no matter who you are, where you come from, how much you earn or where you live. Knowing we can help is what drives us to work in health.

 
Right now it’s getting harder to do the work that we trained for. We want the best for everyone who comes into our care, but health underfunding means that sometimes we’re not able to give you the best. We are often short staffed, rushed, and need a little more time to give you care. We are sad sometimes because of what we couldn’t do for your tamariki, your grandparents or your neighbour. Many of you are feeling frustrated by delays in getting the healthcare you deserve and expect. We are frustrated too.

 
Together, we can fix this. If health was funded sustainably now and into the future we could improve that service for every New Zealander. We can have a health system where every patient knows that when they need care, they will see the right health professional, with the right skill, in the right place, at the right time. This is the proud tradition of our country.

 
It is election year. Who you vote for is your personal choice, but we are asking you to use your vote to help us give you and your loved ones the best care. Make sure you are enrolled to vote now, and that the people you know are enrolled . Check out which political parties are committed to increasing health funding. Pay close attention to what they say about resourcing us to give you quality care.

 
We are asking you to make health funding your first priority this election. Talk to your friends and family about voting for health. Without an increase to health funding we are all in serious trouble. With your vote, we can improve and save lives.

Yours sincerely,

NZNO Kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku, NZNO President Grant Brookes, the undersigned nurses, caregivers, midwives, healthcare assistants, kaiāwhina, and the people they care for.

You can add your name, where you’re from and message of support as a comment on the blog. Your nursing team would really appreciate it.

Authorised by Memo Musa, New Zealand Nurses Organisation,
Crowe Horwath House, 57 Willis Street, Wellington
PO Box 2128 Wellington


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Shouting Out because We Care!

A message for politicians and NZNO members from Richard and Annie.

A couple of weeks ago, the Yes We Care tour arrived at Wellington Hospital on the most horrible day of the year. It was cold, it was wet, and the rain was falling sideways. Richard and Annie are two Shout Out member leaders who were determined to deliver a health funding message despite the weather. Here is why they did it.

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Richard McCormick Wellington Nurse 2.jpgRichard in the rain!

Quite honestly, standing outside in the cold and windy Wellington weather was minor compared to the challenges of working in an underfunded health system. Like many nurses, I believe everyone has the ‘right to health’ – that New Zealand has a fundamental duty to provide access to healthcare that people need. That’s what we try to achieve in our work.

But, the work of nurses is being undermined by living and working conditions that don’t enable good health outcomes for an increasing number of people. And when those people get sick and come to us for help, at the moment we are not able to provide every patient with the best quality care every time. Slowly, Kiwis’ ‘right to health’ has been taken away, until we have reached a point where my colleagues are experiencing moral distress in their work. They regularly tell me that they feel despair when they are faced with preventable situations they can’t fix with their clinical skills because of a lack of health resources.

That’s why it’s time to use our political skills as well as our clinical ones. As a nurse and NZNO delegate, what really mattered to me was showing up to this event to demonstrate we can overcome our despair.  We have a strategy to campaign based on hope, courage and collective action: hope for a healthier future and courage to stand up for what we aspire to achieve. We stand up for collective action, no matter how small it may seem at the time, to protect the right to health. Even in the rain!

My message to politicians is that underfunding of the health system is not about money, but is about the right thing to do for New Zealanders. Just like nurses do, each of you make choices about how much money to spend on different priorities. When you were elected, you took on responsibility for the health of the nation. We are telling you as clinicians that it’s time now to increase health funding. In fact it is overdue. When health needs aren’t met, they don’t just vanish, they get much worse, and our population is growing and ageing. Acting now is a moral imperative before the problem is even bigger.

My message to nurses is that I know what you are going through at work, because I experience it too. Sometimes it feels like you couldn’t possibly do anything more – but that’s why we need to shout out for our health now, so we can be the change we want to see.

Annie

Wellington We careWellington NZNO staff, delegates, and NZNO President Grant Brookes at the Yes We Care tour action outside Wellington hospital. Annie is wearing the pink hat to the right of the picture.

My message for politicians is very simple. My colleagues and I just want to be able to do a job that gives the very best care for the people we look after. Part of that is having the right tools, safe staffing levels, and a reasonable workload. I want to be able to take my meal breaks, go home on time and not constantly revise and ration the care I am able to provide. This doesn’t seem like too much to ask, but at the moment this is not happening in our health system. Each and every nurse I know comes to work to give 100% on the job, despite the shortages. If you fund health properly, we can go back to having good work days where we go home satisfied with a job well done, and patients’ needs being met.

To my fellow NZNO nurses: As health professionals, it comes naturally to us to speak up for our patients. Every day we are our patients’ advocates. We want the best outcome for each and every one of them. So I’m not willing to stand by in silence and allow them to be disadvantaged by an underfunded health system. And I don’t think that you are willing to be silent either. If we don’t speak up for our patients, who will? That’s all that we are doing- extending our advocacy outside of the ward. Join me, because this year we have to do it together. We will win this, for us all.

The Yes We Care tour is coming to to Pukekohe tomorrow and moving north up the country until the end of March. For a full list of events that you can go to support, see www.facebook.com/pg/yeswecare.nz/events/ . We’d love to see you there.

 


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A comfy chair

Social media shares2 10 Feb2

A Shout out for health blog by NZNO delegate and member leader Rachelle Smith.

My name is Rachelle and I work in the Bay of Plenty. I am a Health Care Assistant on a ‘high acuity’ medical ward, where we also specialise in looking after the elderly. High acuity means that patients need lots of immediate care, unlike conditions you can manage over a longer term or outside the hospital. So it can be quite full on, but I love my job.

My satisfaction comes from impacting lives in a positive way, and providing quality care that meets my patients’ needs and helps them achieve their goals. We provide a holistic approach to care, where we encourage whānau to give us feedback and input. This supports both us and the well-being and safety of each patient.

I am passionate about engaging others on the effects of chronic underfunding of health care in New Zealand. I see this every day in my own work, but I’m still learning through our Shout out for health campaign how it affects every other part of our health system too. I’m part of this campaign because each of the patients and families we work with are worthy of our time, quality care, and our advocacy.

On reflection, I see our health system as a framework, a framework that supports our families and wider communities. When our framework is built on a foundation of underfunding, like building on sand, it becomes compromised and the whole long-term system that keeps our communities going starts to break down. This shows itself in big ways, like longer waiting lists, but the little ways are just as important too.  Simple things like an appropriate comfortable chair for our older patients now are a ‘luxury’ item. But a comfy chair can make all the difference for someone who is old and in pain. Facilities need to weigh up whether they can afford to purchase these things against all their other growing expenses. It’s not a simple case of providing what patients need straight away anymore. These decisions take more thought and time.

Healthcare staff and other organisations are doing their best to fix these little gaps in the framework. But if the Government dedicated more funds for health than it does at the moment we would have a stronger foundation to build on. We could provide ‘uncompromised’ care and ensure every New Zealander could achieve their own health goals. The Government needs to put a higher priority on the well-being of the whole population, especially when they are in need of a little extra help from healthcare services and staff.

I know that little things like comfy chairs for the elderly end up adding up to make a big difference to the quality of our lives. I want a strong health framework, not just for my patients, but to support the kind of country I want us to be for future generations.