Ten thousand “forgotten” health workers set to strike

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch
Apr 19, 2022 |

Ten thousand PSA allied, public health, scientific and technical workers have voted overwhelmingly to take strike action in May.

The essential DHB health workforce will ‘work to rule’ from 9 – 20 May and hold a 24-hour strike on 16 May.

The strikes are the result of a year and a half of waiting for their DHB employers to table a decent offer to settle their collective agreement.

Sterile services technician Steve said, “I am a qualified health professional, but I don’t make enough to support my family so I have to work a second job. There is nothing to encourage us to stay in our work and we are constantly short staffed due to people leaving for higher paying jobs at places like Bunnings and KFC.

It’s gutting to realise that the Minister of Health Andrew Little has heard my story in the House but still doesn’t care enough about me and my colleagues to authorise the DHBs to table an offer that recognises my qualifications, skills and experience.”

For Nichola, a mental health occupational therapist, this strike is about making sure that she doesn’t fall even further behind her colleagues in other disciplines.

“Although my role is similar to a mental health nurse in experience and qualifications, I will consistently earn thousands of dollars less than a nurse throughout my career. The systemic undervaluation of our work leaves us burned out, depressed and considering other career options”.

Nichola says that Australian health agencies are actively targeting New Zealand for recruitment because of the low wages.

“We are being contacted by Australian providers offering us tens of thousands of dollars more than the DHBs in New Zealand. Even the starting wage in Australia is more than many of us could hope to earn here. That’s going to create an unprecedent staffing shortage and skills gap as more people choose to leave the country entirely.”

PSA organiser Will Matthews says that although the PSA has made progress in negotiations with the DHBs, it is still not enough.

“We’re at the point where nothing else can be done without the Government authorising the DHBs to make a better offer.”

“We’re so close to getting this over the line. Minister Andrew Little can change the lives of 10,000 essential workers if he just comes up with a bit more.”

“The window for him to do that without strike action taking place is rapidly closing.”

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch

Chris Lynch is a journalist, videographer and content producer, broadcasting from his independent news and production company in Christchurch, New Zealand. If you have a news tip or are interested in video content, email [email protected]

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