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Thousands of nurses walk off the job around NZ, striking for better pay

Thousands of nurses around the country have walked off the job during a day of nationwide strikes at public hospitals and DHB facilities.

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Nurses around NZ are striking today for eight hours after rejecting a second offer from DHBs. Source: 1 NEWS

On Monday, the New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) voted to reject a second offer and walk off the job from 11am to 7pm today.

Footage from outside Hawke’s Bay Hospital in Hastings today showed the large group nurses march out to the road behind a man playing My Little Sunshine on guitar.

The striking nurses were greeted with toots of support from passing motorists.

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One nurse says people deserve to have a safe environment to work in, especially amid a pandemic. Source: 1 NEWS

Hundreds of nurses have also gathered in Auckland's Queen Street, finding similar support from motorists. 

In Wellington, hundreds marched down Lambton Quay towards the Beehive. 

Nurses march down Lambton Quay towards the Beehive, demanding better pay and work conditions. Source: 1 NEWS

In Queenstown a group of nurses held a protest beside a main road.

Earlier this week, NZNO lead advocate David Wait said the second offer did not significantly change and did not address "serious nursing workforce issues" and "pay rates that do not attract people into the profession or retain the people we have".

In the House yesterday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said DHBs had made an offer that “substantially lifts” the pay of nurses on the lowest pay bands, as well as starting brackets.

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It comes after the nurses’ union voted to reject two offers from DHBs. Source: 1 NEWS

“At the moment, their [NZNO’s] ask is 17 per cent [annualised increases]; we're just not in the position to be able to fund that at this point in time,” Ardern said.

Tairāwhiti DHB chief executive Jim Green confirmed the 17 per cent figure on Breakfast this morning.

He said bargaining between DHBs and NZNO will continue after the strike, and that he was confident these would continue to be done in good faith.

He said DHBs will be "listening" to start off with, then see what else it can offer nurses.

Nurses protesting in Queenstown. Source: 1 NEWS

“It really very much centres around the pay equity settlement and the expectations around that from nurses."

Green said a settlement could be reached within "the next month or so", and that this would be key to reaching an agreement with nurses over their collective agreement.

“I believe that we [DHBs] are [valuing nurses enough]. But, clearly, the outcome of the pay equity settlement is showing that nurses have been historically undervalued. That has to be addressed."