Kerri Nuku, Kaiwhakahaere
New Zealand Nurses Organisation, Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa (NZNO)
This is a truly significant time. Despite the difficulties we’re currently facing, the rates offered to DHB nursing staff under the recent proposed Nursing Pay Equity settlement should be something to celebrate because it’s a formal recognition that we have been undervalued. Of course, it doesn’t come close to really addressing the power imbalance we face in a sexist society, but material compensation would be better than just words.
It’s taken an incredibly long time even to get to this point, and I think we owe it to ourselves and each other to be staunch and see this process through. It’s crucial for us to challenge with curiosity and hold fast to what we know our value to be. We can’t settle for anything that will undermine the future of nursing.
The fact that members are not satisfied with what’s been put in front of them is a positive thing because it has opened a conversation and presented us with possibilities. We’ve come across an obstacle, and now we’re given an opportunity to reflect, regather and renew our direction.
For me, the critical part of this, and the opportunity that we’re now afforded, is to put a line in the sand and say that all workers across all sectors need to be recognised. What we do today is important for our colleagues across the sectors.
We can truly enact kotahitanga and solidarity. We can be forward thinking, and above all, we can embrace a broader sense of justice than what the Government and employers want us to have. They want us to fight amongst each other for funding, to think it’s either DHB or Māori providers or Aged Caregivers. They also benefit if we think that Te Tiriti and equity are at odds with union principles. That kind of thinking creates division. It’s not the kind of thinking that wins the fight for justice.
We can and must fight for all, and in doing so we have to acknowledge that non-DHB campaigns haven’t had the same support at NZNO.
Just as nurses are trained to triage patients based on their acuity, everybody should get the care they need and deserve. Why shouldn’t we apply the same to our own organisation? Why can’t we also focus our resources on those who most deeply experience inequity?
Again, we don’t have to choose between, but our NZNO’s relative silence for those outside DHBs has to be addressed and together with the strength of 55,000 we can expand Pay Equity to all sectors.
Ki te kotahi te kākaho ka whati, ki te kāpuia, e kore e whati – When we stand alone we are vulnerable, but together we are unbreakable.