At a two-hour paid union meeting today, Allied health workers decided to ballot members on whether to take strike action to progress their claim for a decent offer from DHBs.
From tomorrow the 10,000 members of this essential DHB health workforce will vote on a fortnight of ‘work to rule’ industrial action from 9 – 20 May and a 24 hour strike on 16 May.
The results of the vote will be announced on 20 April.
During the meeting, union members spoke of their disappointment and disillusionment with their employers and the government.
Hauora Māori kaimahi, Allan said, “The DHBs are partners with Tangata Whenua under Te Tiriti o Waitangi. But Māori staff, including those working in cultural roles like me, are at the bottom of the pile when it comes to fair pay and treatment.
Every day we are called upon to perform important cultural labour that goes completely unrecognised in our pay. We have almost no opportunity for wage progression, and we are constantly impacted by staff shortages.
It is exploitation like this that makes me feel that when it comes to health, the DHBs are doing little more than paying lip service to Te Tiriti. If we are to be true partners, we need an offer that ensures Māori Cultural Workers can stand alongside our colleagues.”
Laboratory scientist Sue said, “Since the beginning of the pandemic we have worked extremely long hours, often on back to back overtime shifts processing Covid-19 tests. Our workloads grow as staff get sick, or burned out and leave – and that puts more pressure on everyone else.
The lack of recognition by the government is insulting and humiliating for us all."
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.
We need the government to come to the table with a fair pay offer. It’s not a case of “nice-to-have” – this is sink or swim for us.”
Mental health professional Andy said, “We do not feel valued by our employer. We work in an environment where we are under-resourced, overworked, underpaid and exhausted. That is business as usual for us.
Nothing is actually going to change for us until the government puts a pay offer on the table that is going to guarantee fair pay – otherwise we will continue to be chronically short staffed and burned out.”
PSA organiser Will Matthews says, “The government needs to give the DHBs a mandate to settle this dispute with a fair offer when we resume facilitation on Thursday. The window to settle this collective agreement without strike action is fast closing.”