Safety, not pay, key issue of strike action

Nurses picket outside Gisborne Hospital this morning.

Nurses picket outside Gisborne Hospital this morning.

'PUBLIC HEALTH IS UNDER ATTACK': That proved a popular chant for Hauora Tairawhiti nurses as they picketed outside Gisborne Hospital this morning during the first strike by New Zealand nurses in 30 years. They say the public health system has been underfunded for 10 years, leading to unsafe staffing levels. Nurses across the country turned down a second offer by health boards last week involving staffing, pay rates and pay equity. More than 380 Gisborne Hospital nurses went on a 24-hour strike from 7am. Pictures by Liam Clayton
ON STRIKE: Nurses picket outside Gisborne Hospital this morning as part of 24 hours of industrial action.

Striking Hauora Tairawhiti nurses started their 24 hours of industrial action in a picket line outside Gisborne Hospital from 7am today, emphasising their key issue is public safety.

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) nurses were cheerful as they enjoyed a sunny morning, chanted slogans,displayed their banners and applauded as many motorists tooted their vehicle horns in support.

“Public health is under attack”, was one chant.

One nurse described much of the national media coverage as being inaccurate because adequate staffing levels, rather than pay levels, was the dominant issue.

“It is about safe staffing numbers,” said NZNO delegate and recovery nurse Fiona Hatton. “The Government needs to invest more money so we have more nurses on the floor, so we can retain nurses and keep our qualified nurses in New Zealand.

We want to provide a good service to our patients.”

Nurses were getting tired on wards because of the lack of staff.
“Nurses are stressed and there are more professional commitments being put on us.’’

NZNO delegate and Planet Sunshine nurse Richelle Tarsau said nurses were leaving their shift with the feeling that they had not done their best.

“There isn’t enough staff and there isn’t enough time to do their best.”

Nursing today was more about “care rationing’’ than providing quality care.

NZNO delegate Marion Clark and Mrs Hatton said they were involved in the last nurses’ strike 30 years ago.
They did not enjoy striking.

“We are here today for the health of our families, ourselves, our staff and the community, said Mrs Clark.
“We don’t want to strike. It’s the last thing we want to do. We are strongly here to advocate to build a good health system.”

Several nurses told The Herald they rejected criticism that strikes were increasing under a Labour-led Government.

Their negotiations dated back to the previous government. The situation in nursing today could be linked back to 10 years of underfunding in health, they said.

Nurses were later due to march along Gladstone Road to Heipipi Endeavour Park and hold an afternoon picket outside Gisborne Hospital.

Around 95 percent of nurses and healthcare assistants at Hauora Tairawhiti are members of NZNO, meaning more than 380 staff members are on strike.

Midwives are in a different union and are not on strike.

See more about the nationwide strike today on page 7 in the national section of The Gisborne Herald.

Striking Hauora Tairawhiti nurses started their 24 hours of industrial action in a picket line outside Gisborne Hospital from 7am today, emphasising their key issue is public safety.

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) nurses were cheerful as they enjoyed a sunny morning, chanted slogans,displayed their banners and applauded as many motorists tooted their vehicle horns in support.

“Public health is under attack”, was one chant.

One nurse described much of the national media coverage as being inaccurate because adequate staffing levels, rather than pay levels, was the dominant issue.

“It is about safe staffing numbers,” said NZNO delegate and recovery nurse Fiona Hatton. “The Government needs to invest more money so we have more nurses on the floor, so we can retain nurses and keep our qualified nurses in New Zealand.

We want to provide a good service to our patients.”

Nurses were getting tired on wards because of the lack of staff.
“Nurses are stressed and there are more professional commitments being put on us.’’

NZNO delegate and Planet Sunshine nurse Richelle Tarsau said nurses were leaving their shift with the feeling that they had not done their best.

“There isn’t enough staff and there isn’t enough time to do their best.”

Nursing today was more about “care rationing’’ than providing quality care.

NZNO delegate Marion Clark and Mrs Hatton said they were involved in the last nurses’ strike 30 years ago.
They did not enjoy striking.

“We are here today for the health of our families, ourselves, our staff and the community, said Mrs Clark.
“We don’t want to strike. It’s the last thing we want to do. We are strongly here to advocate to build a good health system.”

Several nurses told The Herald they rejected criticism that strikes were increasing under a Labour-led Government.

Their negotiations dated back to the previous government. The situation in nursing today could be linked back to 10 years of underfunding in health, they said.

Nurses were later due to march along Gladstone Road to Heipipi Endeavour Park and hold an afternoon picket outside Gisborne Hospital.

Around 95 percent of nurses and healthcare assistants at Hauora Tairawhiti are members of NZNO, meaning more than 380 staff members are on strike.

Midwives are in a different union and are not on strike.

See more about the nationwide strike today on page 7 in the national section of The Gisborne Herald.

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