Nurses on strike until 7am Friday: What you need to know

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) rejected the latest pay offer from their DHB employers and are strike for 24 hours. Here is everything you need to know:

Who's on strike?

Capital Coast District Health Board Chief Medical Officer Dr John Tait says DHBs have planned for the strike for months. Source: Breakfast

Up to 29,500 nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants working for district health boards.

The Nurses’ union says offers from the Government are not acceptable. Source: Breakfast

These people are estimated to comprise 60 to 70 percent of the DHBs' hospital workforce. Canterbury DHB estimates around 90 percent of its nursing workforce is eligible to strike.

In total, the nurses' union (NZNO) has 50,00 members, 29,500 of whom are covered by the multi-employer collective agreement (MECA) governing DHB-employed hospital nurses and midwives.

When is it on?

From 7am this morning until 7am tomorrow morning.

Why are they striking?

Nurses have rejected four pay offers from DHBs in just over a year.

The latest offer boosted the minimum pay increase nurses would receive from 9 percent to 12.5 percent, but delays the time taken for the pay rises to take effect.

DHBs and the government have maintained there was no more money available for nurses' pay negotiations.

The Nurses Organisation is recommending the improved offer which includes pay increases of 12.5 to 15.9 percent, to be rolled out over 25 months.

Strike action was also scheduled for early July but was called off because the DHB offer was improved and NZNO recommended their members accept it.

Nurses will turn out in numbers to picket hospitals across the country, but they've also vowed not to let the strike endanger lives. Source: 1 NEWS

"Issues faced and reported by our members have arisen from a decade of severe underfunding of our public hospitals which have failed to keep pace with growing community need, the ageing population and workforce, and increased costs," said NZNO Industrial Services Manager Cee Payne.

Lack of trust in DHBs is a big issue for nurses.

The NZNO needed a simple majority to reject the latest pay offer to proceed with the strike.

While the organisation never release voting statistics, it says this week's vote was closer than last time.

Nurses have not gone on strike for 30 years.

What was the offer the nurses rejected?

Members of the Nurses Organisation rejected the fourth offer by DHBs on Monday.

The offer redistributed available funding, lifting the minimum increase from 9 per cent to 12.5 per cent but over a longer period, over 25 months, or until August 2020.

DHBs also said they would begin recruiting immediately an extra 500 or so full-time staff.

The offer also provided a date - 31 December 2019 - for the implementation of pay equity, in a package estimated to be worth $520 million.

Are all nurses happy with the decision to strike?

The union has come under fire on social media with intense debate and criticism of it by some nurses for failing, in their view, to advocate strongly enough for nurses against their employers over years.

Who will provide cover?

Nurses who are union members and others are "Nurse Responders" who have agreed to provide vital life preserving services for the strike. This is a legal requirement during a strike.

Cover for any nurses who are providing life preserving services but become sick and can't work during the strike will be provided under separate emergency procedures.

The NZNO wants to assure the public that patient and public safety is paramount at all times.

How many operations have been deferred?

To reduce demand within public hospitals DHBs have beem deferring elective, or non-urgent surgical procedures. All outpatient appointments - hundreds for every hospital - have also been cancelled for Thursday, to free up staff for other things on the day of the strike.

The DHBs' lead contingency planner Anne Aitcheson said Wednesday between 3500 and 3700 elective procedures nationwide will probably be deferred, to be rescheduled later. The chief medical officer at Capital and Coast DHB, John Tait, said on Tuesay 6000 to 8000 elective appointments nationwide will need to be deferred on Thursday.

What happens in a major emergency like an earthquake?

Emergency plans agreed by the nurses' union and DHB contingency planners would cover this possibility.

Advice for anyone needing care:

People who had an outpatient appointment for today should have been contacted by now. Phone your general practice team/family doctor for advice if needed, or if it's an emergency dial 111.

DHBs have also told the public to access emergency and urgent care as normal - going straight to the hospital emergency department if required. And they've urged those in need of such help not to stay away from hospital at the expense of their health.

Where to from here?

At this stage there are no further strikes notified and no more talks planned between the parties. During a strike longer-term considerations take a backseat to managing hospitals during the strike

Nurses have said they remain available.

The 24 hour strike over pay and work conditions began at 7am today. Source: 1 NEWS



Helicopter rescues man with broken leg from central North Island conservation park

A man who suffered a broken leg was rescued from a conservation park, east of Taupo this afternoon.

Police say the man was airlifted to Hastings Hospital from Whirinaki Te Pua-a-Tāne Conservation Park.

A rescue helicopter was alerted to the incident after a beacon was set off about 3.50pm. 

The man was located about 1.5km from Skips Hut.

High-banking Agusta helicopter.More helicopters:
Helicopter (file picture). Source: 1 NEWS

TODAY'S
TOP STORIES

Elderly woman the latest culprit as flower thieves target parks in Auckland and Christchurch

An elderly woman armed with secateurs is the latest flower thief to target public gardens.

She came armed with secateurs and a side-kick for support. A flash of guilt crossed her face but she bent over the colourful flower bed in Auckland's Cornwall Park anyway and lopped at the fragrant spring blooms.

The elderly women, who slowed traffic yesterday as they ventured out on the road to gain access to the best freesias and tulips, were just the latest flower fans to go pilfering at the largest parkland in Auckland.

Park director Michael Ayrton said flower thieves operated in the park every spring and autumn, but it was the first time he'd heard of one wielding gardening tools.

"She came with intent," he said.

"It was obviously a premeditated thing. They obviously wanted some cut flowers and decided to help themselves."

"The spring blooms are there and planted for everyone to enjoy, so it's quite a selfish attitude to hear that people are helping themselves to plants that are provided for everyone's enjoyment."

He was astonished the two women decided to steal in the middle of a sunny spring day when the park was packed with visitors.

"They're pretty gutsy to do it in the middle of the day. Very surprising."

Flower thieves are usually sneakier, he said, and are long gone by the time the "garden staff notice the beds hacked into," Mr Ayrton said.

Occasionally, people have been caught stealing flowers - often after other park visitors have tipped off staff - and have been trespassed from the park, he said.

"Conditions of entry categorically state you're not to pick the flowers."

Signs are also put out during spring and autumn, asking visitors not to pick the flowers.

Flower theft has long been a problem for parks across the country.

Earlier this month, the Christchurch group Friends of Abberley Park complained on Facebook that people were not only stealing flowers but pulling the "Please do not pick the flowers" signs out of the ground too.

The group posted, "To the guy who parked his car, let his kid out to pick the daffodils while he sat in the car on his mobile phone - yes - you were breaking the law".

At the beginning of the year, the group said council staff had planted a new flowers at the park and within a month more than half had been taken.

Cornwall Park's Michael Ayrton said it wasn't just flowers people stole. Firewood was provided for the barbeques in the park, and at the beginning of winter, thieves often took off with it.

- By Veronica Schmidt

rnz.co.nz

The flower bed where an elderly woman wielding secateurs was seen stealing spring blooms. Source: rnz.co.nz

TODAY'S
FEATURED STORIES

Simon Bridges slammed for 'meth crook' comments by Green Party

The Green Party says National Party  leader Simon Bridges' isn't fit to run a political party after he described state tenants who were kicked out of their homes as "meth crooks".

Housing New Zealand released a report last week admitting it shouldn't have turfed out tenants based on methamphetamine contamination guidelines which have since been found to be misused.

The period was dubbed 'meth hysteria' - during which hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent unnecessarily on stripping out homes, and hundreds of state tenants kicked out.

The Greens say National is now amplifying that hysteria, by calling those finally up for some recompense, crooks.

The person claiming to be the leaker said they suffered from mental health issues in the past.
Source: 1 NEWS

"Continuing to put harmful stigma against people, including families with children, elderly people, who were uprooted, had to find new homes and new communities, lost a lot of their possessions - whole lives were impacted on - and what does Simon Bridges choose to do? He chooses to keep whipping them," said co-leader Marama Davidson.

"So I think that's a clear choice for New Zealanders about what direction he would actually take our country. He's not at all fit to be, ever, leading this country, let alone a political party."

Mr Bridges made the comment on Twitter last week and backed up his comment on RNZ this morning.

"Paying people where Housing New Zealand has determined they have smoked or cooked P - those tenants have - I'm sorry, that is wrong, that is money that should not be going to them," he told Morning Report.

But Housing Minister Minister Phil Twyford made it clear when Housing NZ released its report that it would not be blanket compensation.

"There will be quite an in-depth and case-by-case assessment of each instance where a tenant had their tenancy terminated because of meth contamination," he said.

"In instances where there was contamination above the Gluckman threshold, they will not be eligible for financial assistance. In cases where tenants were involved with manufacturing or dealing, and where there is evidence to support that contention - so there is a level of natural justice at play - they will also not be eligible for compensation."

The Gluckman threshold is based on the report by Sir Peter Gluckman, the Prime Minister's former chief science advisor. His assessment debunked the myth that exposure to low levels of methamphetamine contamination is harmful to people's health.

The level of contamination, his report said, could be 10 times higher than the level people were kicked out of their homes for, and even then there is only a low risk to health.

Its release in May led to apologies from top officials, including the new Housing Minister and the head of Housing NZ.

Mr Bridges also apologised for getting "dud advice".

"Yeah, I'm sorry that the advice we got was wrong, and it's made this situation what it is," he told Morning Report in June.

Fronting post-Cabinet on Monday, deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters said Mr Bridges was merely making cheapskate allegations in an attempt to take the heat off the previous government's mishandling of the matter.

"If there is proof of criminality, of course they won't get compensation. And I'm ashamed that someone who's got a legal background - or supposedly has one - is making that allegation."

By Gia Garrick

rnz.co.nz

The National leader says it sends a poor message that those found to have cooked or used meth in Housing NZ homes get compensation. Source: Breakfast


Legendary broadcaster Merv Smith of ZB breakfast fame dies

Legendary radio broadcaster Merv Smith has died.

Newstalk ZB reports Smith dominated breakfast airwaves at 1ZB from 1961 until Paul Holmes started the Newstalk format in 1987.

Former colleague Barry Holland said Smith was the first of the big personalities.

"My endearing memory of him was his humour and his timing. He was just so funny and so natural within himself, and so humble."

Holland said the new Newstalk format "just wasn't his sort of radio". 

"He thought that's the time to go and went and started up a country music radio station that came out of Albany."

After he retired from radio he followed his passion of trains, and ran Merv Smith Hobbies in Newmarket.

He was in his mid-80s.

Merv Smith and McHairy the spider who featured on the breakfast show. Source: rnz.co.nz