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Our voices grow louder

Kerri Nuku, Kaiwhakahaere
Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa NZNO

An aura of solidarity filled the air as more than 4200 of our members embraced the Maranga Mai! spirit in demanding employers bring their salaries up to par with our colleagues at Te Whatu Ora.

Plunket nurses hit the streets for the first time in decades on Thursday to voice their frustrations together with more than 3500 of their Primary Health Care MECA comrades.

After yesterday’s strikes, last week’s action by nurses from three private hospitals, and our Te Whatu Ora members refusal to work additional shifts three weeks ago, our message is now being delivered louder and clearer than ever.

Although we saw united action across the motu and for many of these nurses, they had taken affirmative action and joined in the ground swell. The vibe was palpable, the support and solidarity from other areas of the medical profession, emergency services and public amazing.

The action effect and optic must go past a few hours of action because the issue we face a historical and deeply entrenched. We must brush off the image that nurses and health care workers are complacent, we must dispel the myth that nurses are in silos across the health system, we need to all come together for the health and safety of not only our communities but for our workforce.

The issue at heart is Pay Parity for Primary Health Care, Plunket and Māori and iwi providers, it continues to be unfair and unjust that the same qualification and NCNZ requirement expected of both nurses that work within Te Whatu Ora and the funded sector should be allowed to be paid differently. Māori and iwi providers have been challenging successive governments for more than 14 years to address this Pay Parity gap and has gone so far as to take legal action against the Crown for continual breaches of unfairness.

Collective action is what is required to make change and we must continue to build member power and challenge unfairness and inequities for all nurses and health care workers in the future. We must raise our voices to the Government so loudly that the sound of nurses is deafening, we can’t be silent anymore. The Government cannot afford turn a deaf ear to our cries much longer or continue to plant their heads in the sand. We have had our fill and we will no longer put up with it. Our voices grow louder, will be heard and we will succeed!

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Plaudits to Rachel Thorn

Anne Daniels, NZNO President
NZNO Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa

Our action to stand united in making our point to Te Whatu Ora and refuse additional shifts from 3 to 9 October has left me proud of my colleagues and of being a nurse.

One nurse, Rachel Thorn is one of 1695 delegates who support members on the ground. Rachel led the way to challenge the decision made by Te Whatu Ora regarding winter payment inconsistencies and inequities. Last week’s unprecedented action was generated from her leadership (Whangārei nursing staff demand better winter incentives) in July. Since then, 80 percent of her colleagues in the Whangarei Emergency Department withdrew their goodwill and declined any extra hours of work.

Rachel has not only worked locally and but also nationally becoming the voice of last week’s action while demonstrating the principles of Maranga Mai!

As a result of her letter, an information gathering survey was sent out on 29 July to all members. We received more than 4000 responses in just over two days. Those responses made it clear that we needed to push back to Te Whatu Ora on the lack of consultation and the pitiful, gender-discriminating winter payment (when compared to our doctor colleagues) offered to nurses.

A survey, has just gone out to NZNO members asking for your experience of this action. Te Whatu Ora has also sent out communications on 30 September.

We expect to see the need for additional hours reducing as a result of COVID-19 and flu infections dropping. There will always be a need for some additional hours, although these are likely to be reduced over time and in line with our normal work now that we are past the peak of COVID and winter.

So, where to from here? The results of the survey sent out, will tell us. But there is one thing I do know, ‘winter is coming’ again. In a context where negotiations are about to start for the tertiary sector, when pay equity and backpay, pay parity, and no movement being made towards financial relief for student nurses or a reduction in immigration barriers for IQNs, I believe there is a growing NZNO member appetite to all stand up and act collectively. Maranga Mai!

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Maranga Mai! Let’s Rise up together

Kaiwhaka Kerri Nuku
Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa NZNO

Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa NZNO
Tu tonu mai
Te iwi e
Maranga mai
Hikitia te wero
Kia mau
Tatou katoa

Stand tall, stand proud
The people
Let us rise up to together
Let us take hold of the challenge
Let’s stand together and face to the
future together

“Maranga Mai! – Let’s rise up together”. We must work collectively to bring members together and address the workforce issues in the nursing, midwifery, kaimahi hauora, health care assistance and tauira arenas. 

Growing inequalities have been perpetuated and this could be attributed to apathetic politics that does not address the issues or the need for urgent change. This has led to many lagging behind in Aotearoa New Zealand’s health care system. 

This is not acceptable, fair, or just. Nurses, midwives, kaimahi hauora, health care assistants and tauira must be courageous. To be unsung heroes we need to be prepared to lead change. 
What we need is inspired collective action to ensure we as a union and a professional organisation leave no one behind. We must rise up!

Ki te kotahi te kākaho, ka whati; ki te kāpuia, e kore e whati.
If a reed stands alone, it can be broken; if it is in a group, it cannot.