Midwives reject pay offer

Newshub ?reports: quote.

More than 1100 midwives across the country have voted overwhelmingly to reject the district health boards’ (DHBs’) pay offer and go on strike.

Eight out of every 10 members of midwives’ union MERAS who are employed by DHBs voted in the ballot. Of those, 90 percent opted to reject the DHBs’ offer.

From Wednesday, midwives across New Zealand will hand in their notice informing employees of planned two-hour work stoppages every day on every shift over a two-week period from November 22 to December 5. end quote.

What was that you were saying in your election campaign about no strikes, Jacinda? quote.

Industrial co-leader Jill Ovens says the idea is to maximise disruption for the DHBs while minimising the effect on women and their babies.

Midwives were offered the same pay offer as the New Zealand Nurses Organisation. end quote.

Which is not unreasonable. I would expect their pay offer, in percentage terms, to be much the same as that accepted by nurses. quote.

Members put their rejected pay offer down to DHBs’ refusal to recognise midwives’ skills and responsibilities, a key claim for midwives since pay negotiations started more than a year ago, Ms Owen says.

“They have a high level of responsibility, study for a four-year direct-entry degree, and their scope of practice includes a high level of clinical decision-making.”

DHBs rejected the union’s proposal for a further pay percentage. They also rejected a retention allowance to address the pressing midwifery shortage.

Ms Owen says commitment and investment is required by DHBs and the Ministry of Health to recruit and retain midwives.?s and Ministry of Health know urgent action is needed to address the midwifery shortage and midwives’ work-related stress.” end quote.

More industrial action and disruption. While I’m sure the midwives will do as much as they can to limit the disruption to expectant mothers, we all know you cannot have it both ways. For the strike action to be effective, it has to be disruptive. quote.

Ballot co-ordinators in every DHB reported that members were keen to vote.

“This is a pivotal time for midwifery. Members see it as ‘our time’ to be recognised,” MERAS MECA team representative Michelle Archer says. end quote.

And on it goes. As each pay dispute is settled, another sector takes a look at their own position and finds it insufficient. Even if the midwives were happy with their pay rates before, the question of differential comes into play. Now that nurses have accepted a pay increase, midwives have to lobby for an increase too, otherwise, they will be paid less than nurses and on it goes… potentially forever.

I confess to having a lot of sympathy for medical professionals, but the constant threat of strike action becomes very wearing after a while. We have had considerably more strikes in the last year than in the previous nine years. This is the price the government pays for being in the grip of the unions. Now that Labour is back in government, the unions want their pound of flesh. This isn’t over yet.