Hospital support staff threaten to stop work over pay

Support staff at Palmerston North Hospital are threatening stopwork meetings if mediation today does not result in "fair" pay increases.

EPMU and First Union representatives for staff including orderlies, pharmacists, drivers and store people from across the country will today go into mediation after months of negotiations failed.

A stopwork meeting will be held on April 9 nationwide if members continue to reject offers.

Store workers and pharmacists from MidCentral District Health Board had been told they would get a "miserable" increase of 1 per cent in the first year, paid in a lump sum, and 1.5 per cent in the second year, said First Union central region secretary Sheryl Cadman.

"We've been bargaining centrally for a number of support staff over the last few months," she said. "So even though they're different agreements we have been bargaining centrally to get one central outcome that would cover all our different support staff."

Pharmacists, store workers, drivers and maintenance workers were involved, she said.

MidCentral human resources manager Anne Amoore said district health boards had been in combined negotiations with unions since November for Single Employer Collective Agreements (SECAs).

MidCentral has two SECAs as part of these negotiations - Pharmacy and Storepersons.

"Seventeen of the 20 DHBs are involved in these negotiations, and 26 SECAs are included," she said. "A settlement has not been achieved for 25 of the 26 SECAs."

Ms Amoore said health boards remained committed to reaching a settlement with the relevant union.

DHBs did not comment on the detail of negotiations while they were under way, she said.

Ms Cadman said despite the length of negotiations, the union did not have an offer on the table that members were prepared to accept.

"We're hoping for an improvement on the offer, a lot of the workers we represent are very low-paid," she said.

"We have mediation today so maybe we will get a settlement - at this point it's purely about wages and the miserable offer."

MidCentral District Health Board is also negotiating the following multi-employer employment agreements: Resident Medical Officers, sonographers, PSA Allied, public health and technical, PSA mental health and public health nursing, and PSA Lower North Island and Taranaki DHBs clerical/administration.

Manawatu Standard