|News and media|
DHBs disappointed by escalation in industrial action
District Health Boards are disappointed Medical Radiation Technologists (MRTs) have escalated their campaign of industrial action with a notice of total withdrawal of labour, which comes after some DHBs have told the union they intend to suspend workers taking industrial action, including go-slows and limited withdrawal of labour.
MRTs recently rejected a pay offer similar to the one that successfully settled most major negotiations in the sector, covering 75% of employees including nursing and allied/ technical/scientific employees.
Karen Roach, a spokesperson for the DHBs, says DHBs want agreement on an employment contract for this valued group of health workers, but are not prepared to continue paying the employees for work that is not being done.
“This group of employees has been taking industrial action since 22 July, which is placing a strain on other employees picking up the workload. This situation is not sustainable,” she says.
“The decision by some DHBs to suspend striking workers was not taken lightly. DHBs must be responsible in how they spend public funds. They cannot afford to continue paying a full wage to employees who are participating in sustained industrial action that is affecting services.”
Karen Roach points out that DHBs are operating in extremely tight fiscal conditions, and will be for quite some time. “Most health employees understand this – 75 percent of all DHB staff have already accepted a pay offer under the National Terms of Service (NToS) agreement negotiated recently,” she says
“Our priority is to provide the best possible health care to the communities we serve. We need our health staff to work with us, so it’s disappointing this group is escalating its campaign of strikes. They need to reflect on what they realistically expect to achieve through this. DHBs cannot agree to a settlement that is unaffordable.”
The union representing MRTs is Apex, which is industrially serviced by Contract Negotiation Services Ltd (CNS). Medical laboratory workers are also covered by a union that is part of the CNS stable, and are also currently taking industrial action.
“CNS covers around eight percent of the health workforce and yet accounts for over 90% of the strikes in recent years” said Karen Roach. “It’s a disappointing statistic and an approach that needs to change if the public of New Zealand are to be treated fairly during health pay negotiations.”
She says DHBs have plans in place to minimise disruption to patients and services caused by the industrial action.
Date: 23 August 2010For more information contact:
04 381 5150 or 027 530 7042
Note: DHBs and APEX are negotiating a Multi-Employer Contract Agreement (MECA) for MRTs employed by 20 District Health Boards (DHBs) and Waitaki District Health Services Limited. These include medical radiation technologists, darkroom technicians, radiology clinical assistants, student medical radiation technologists and sonographers or student trainee sonographers.