The Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers (ANZASW) is pleased to see that industrial action by nurses in recent weeks has led to a settlement which will deliver a long overdue pay rise and an improvement in working conditions.
Nurses, like social workers, provide an indispensable contribution to society, offering vital services and standing with people during times of crisis; often literally saving lives. For years they put up with stagnating wages and increasing demands, even as the cost of living rose, until they finally decided to engage in this year’s strike action- their first national strike in almost 30 years.
ANZASW believes that their actions were more than justified and were in the public interest. It is inevitable that, despite nurses doing their best, the impact of heavy workloads, unfair pay and insufficient staffing levels were being felt by patients.
This week’s resolution, between the New Zealand Nursing Organisation (NZNO) and district health boards, includes pay rises, a commitment to a scheme that will improve staffing capacity and a promise of pay equity within a year. This follows the signing of an accord in parliament last month which is set to ensure safe staffing levels in hospitals. These developments are welcome and will go some way to reducing the unsustainable levels of pressure that nurses were experiencing.
We look forward to seeing the agreement implemented as soon as possible. Once again we offer our solidarity to nurses and all our public sector colleagues, who have long been under-valued and under-compensated for their irreplaceable service to the community.