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Nurses union backs Te Whatu Ora’s bid to push forward with new pay equity rates

Nurses rally for fair pay near the Bridge of Remembrance

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The final pay rate and back pay for nurses will still be determined by the ERA and the Employment Court.
Photo: RNZ / Nate McKinnon

The nurses union is supporting Te Whatu Ora’s bid to push forward with new pay equity rates, despite an ongoing legal challenge to the settlement.

Te Whatu Ora Health New Zealand asked the Employment Relations Authority for interim orders to fix pay equity rates that would give most nurses a pay boost of more than 14 percent.

Te Whatu Ora and unions – the Nurses Organisation and the PSA – have agreed to the pay rise, but nurses wanted back pay to December 2019.

They voted to take the settlement to the Employment Court to have it decide whether Te Whatu Ora was required to pay this back pay.

Te Whatu Ora chief executive Fepulea’i Margie Apa said nurses shouldn’t have to wait for the outcome of the complex legal challenge.

“We spent three years with nurses and their representatives working through a pay equity claim that established sex-based undervaluation.

“In December 2021 we had an agreement in principle that would have given around three-quarters of our nursing workforce pay rises of 14 percent or more.”

Margie Apa said the ERA was asked for an interim order so Te Whatu Ora can pay the pay equity rates at the level of the agreement in principle; make the effective date for the increased rates to be the date originally agreed – 7 March 2022; and pay a lump sum payment of $3000, in addition to $7000 pay equity lump sums already paid to nurses in 2021.

Fepulea’i Margie Apa has been appointed Chief Executive Officer for Counties Manukau District Health Board, effective 3 September.

Te Whatu Ora chief executive Fepulea’i Margie Apa.
Photo: CMDHB – https://countiesmanukau.health.nz/about-us/news-and-publications/media-releases/new-ceo-for-counties-manukau-dhb/

“Paying out these rates would address a legitimate claim for a key part of the health workforce that has been undervalued for too long,” Margie Apa said.

She said if the application is successful, the pay rise would be in place early next year.

NZNO chief executive Paul Goulter said his group supported the application to the ERA for the interim payout.

“The announcement today is step in the right direction towards the goal of just wages for the 36,000 or so NZNO members who work for Te Whatu Ora, and who have been unjustly denied equality for a long time.”

He said the final pay rate and back pay for nurses were still to be determined by the ERA and the Employment Court.

Story Credit: rnz.co.nz

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