NZNO's Blog

Together we can win; for ourselves and our patients


IMG_1527A message from NZNO industrial adviser for the DHB sector Lesley Harry.

“Meetings are underway at all DHBS to endorse the recommended issues for negotiations as well as the negotiating team and ratification procedure. We know achieving your key issues will not be easy because the DHB’s bargaining parameter is not enough to deliver on your key issues. Please participate in the endorsement meetings and activities and support a decent outcome for all of us.

Together we need to convince the Government to fund DHBs adequately so you are better able to provide quality care for your patients as well as receive a decent pay increase.”

Grant Brookes is an NZNO delegate at Capital and Coast DHB and member of the negotiating team for the 2015 MECA bargaining. He talks about his experience attending several endorsement meetings.

NZNO members working in the DHB Sector are now over half way through a nationwide series of meetings on our Multi-Employer Collective Agreement (MECA).

Next month, we’ll start negotiations for a new MECA. These will not only shape the working lives of more than 25,000 nurses, midwives and other health workers, the negotiations will also influence the quality of care provided by the public health system.

Last week I went to six of the MECA meetings across a couple of DHBs, and not just to vote (only once, of course!) on the issues for negotiation, on the makeup of our negotiating team and on the ratification process we’ll use to accept a settlement.

As a member of the proposed negotiating team, I also attended to get a feel for members’ issues in person, so I could better represent them.

The main issues for negotiation proposed at the meetings are:

  • Wages
  • Safe staffing and healthy workplaces: Care Capacity Demand Management (CCDM)
  • Sick leave
  • Fairness at work
  • Professional development and PDRP/QLP allowances and
  • Outstanding issues from the previous MECA negotiations

Although we will be negotiating with DHB representatives, all of these issues are ultimately influenced by Government.

Towards the end of each of the meetings I attended, the presenters read out the following statement:

Today we have set out the issues that are deeply and widely felt by members as well as highlighted the under-funding of health and nature of recent wage increases in the DHB sector. The financial parameter for 2015 bargaining is almost certainly going to be insufficient to address all of your issues. We anticipate negotiations will not be easy and delivering an acceptable outcome will require all of us working together and likely will need to involve our communities to achieve your goals”.

In other words, we will probably have to convince the Government to increase funding for the DHBs. How successful we are will depend above all on how deeply members believe that our goals are fair and reasonable, and how many people actively participate in our campaign.

Already, many thousands have taken part by filling out and returning the MECA issues survey – an impressive number, especially considering it was the very first campaign activity.

Momentum appears to be building. Signs so far suggest that the current round of MECA meetings have had high turnouts. Discussion of the DHB MECA campaign by delegates at the NZNO AGM last month revealed a strong determination.

Common themes have emerged in discussions at the half dozen meetings I’ve attended. There is a sense that nurses have fallen behind. There also seems to be a feeling that we exercised restraint in MECA bargaining in 2010 and 2012, in response to the Global Financial Crisis and the Christchurch earthquake, and that now it’s time for health to take a higher priority.

If you’re an NZNO member working in a District Health Board and you haven’t been to a meeting yet, get along to one this week. The details of upcoming meetings in your area are at

There you can show your support, like the Wellington Hospital members in the photo, for this solidarity statement:

“Together we can win more pay in our pockets, decent professional development opportunities and safe staffing to ensure quality care for our patients”.



7 thoughts on “Together we can win; for ourselves and our patients

  1. yes we can but only if we are given the time and committment from nzno to participate. Seriously NZNO need to consider other forums for offering voting to all its members in the upcoming negotiations. after attending the recent meetings regarding the coming negotiations i was dismayed that the only way nzno members can vote is by attending the meetings. Unless metings are held over a complete pay period and throughout the 24hr shift cycles then a lot of the members are going to miss out. NZNo needs to offer an online option for voting to ensure that there is equal opportunity to have a voice.

  2. I would like to see a breakdown of the items for negotiation in order to see what is potentially on the table as i felt that our previous MECA was a capitulation and that the costs of living are spiralling whilst we are expected to accept less

    • Hi Paul, a breakdown of the items for negotiation was presented at the meetings, including consideration of what might constitute a reasonable pay increase. However, it’s probably not the best idea to go into detail about that here. Perhaps contact your delegate or organiser for that info?

  3. How to improve participation in the MECA bargaining activities is something which weighs heavily on my mind.
    I wrote the article above half-way through the series of endorsement meetings. At that stage signs in my area were suggesting high turnouts, although in the end the turnouts in some parts of the country were not quite as high as I hoped.
    In my DHB, there were 13 meetings over a 9-day period, including two meetings for members on night shift. So not far off what you were asking for, Janet. The picture was similar in most of the larger DHBs.
    There are some reasons why voting at meetings is preferable. Firstly, everyone is making their decision based on the same information.
    Perhaps more importantly, though, you also get to hear the thoughts of your fellow members, as they ask questions and put forward their thoughts. Hearing this discussion can make a big difference to how you vote.
    Voting at meetings, where members come together across different specialities and workplaces, also promotes awareness of common interests and a sense of solidarity. This is important for achieving a good outcome.
    Despite this, NZNO did trial on-line voting for MECA endorsement questions in 2011, to see if the benefits (for example, increased participation) outweighed these factors.
    The results of the trial showed there was no significant increase in the proportion of members who voted, compared with voting at meetings.
    But if anyone has ideas on how we can give more members a voice, please do share them.

    • Grant you were lucky then because at the dhb I work at the meetings were held in under one week, during day time (office) hours on consecutive days. Night shift and afternoon staff missed out as did those rostered off duty and on annual leave. Notification time of the meetings was short too, with notices appearing the week prior to the meetings. Participation was low as many staff did not get released to attend.
      many of my colleagues would rather have had access online to be able to read and digest the information and make a decision in their own time instead of being rushed over an hour.
      Having other forums for accessing and voting can only be beneficial for NZNO and its members. Information is easily accessible and available to all members in this respect and I believe many more would participate. Why cannot this be offered in tandem with the meetings? If we can be offered this method for voting for the executive then why not for the MECA.

  4. I reckon NZNO try really hard to have as many meetings for us, the Members as possible, so good on all NZNO staff! Many thanks.
    We as Members need to wake up;be active and get in behind Our negotiation team. I reckon most of us ‘the Members’ just waft along and don’t even participate in active membership!!
    I fully intend to take an active interest in and be vocal in our negotiated MECA offer from DHB NZ, and the ratification process, be that what it may.

  5. Pingback: NZNO members flock to DHB MECA Ratification Meetings | Your Choice. Your Voice | Grant Brookes for NZNO President

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