DHB staff back strike action

More than 190 Taranaki District Health Board staff have voted to take strike action starting at the end of the month.

This includes public and mental-health nurses, and clinical staff, with the exception of doctors and nurses, such as physiotherapists; anaesthetic technicians; dental therapists, and administrative staff.

From August 25, they will work to rule and refuse overtime, with three strikes of either two or three hours planned in September.

Nearly 12,000 DHB workers from across the country, members of the Public Service Association (PSA), have voted in favour of taking industrial action after they were offered a 0.7 per cent pay increase a year and no movement on other issues such as training and professional development.

PSA national secretary Richard Wagstaff said health workers were making a stand.

"The strength of these results, with an average 87.1 per cent in favour of industrial action, shows the seriousness of the funding crisis in the health sector. Our members take their duty of care very seriously, it is a huge step for them to even consider taking such strong action."

DHB staff worked hard to keep New Zealanders healthy, but these insulting offers put their own wellbeing under increasing strain, he said.

"The DHBs have told us that the Government has indicated there will be even less money on the table next year - a continuation of systemic underfunding of the health system."

District Health Boards' Employment Relations Strategy Group chairman Graham Dyer said the union was not recognising the tight fiscal environment that DHBs were operating in.

"There remains severe pressure on the economic delivery of world-class health services for all New Zealanders."

Dyer said it was disappointing that the PSA was pursuing possible strike action despite taking part in sector-level briefings that clearly set out the financial pressures on DHBs.

Taranaki Daily News