Nurses to rally in Invercargill
Southern nurses have been called to action, with a rally planned tomorrow to campaign for safer staffing levels and pay increases.
The rally was is scheduled to take place in Wachner Place from noon, and comes after mediation attempts between the New Zealand Nurses Organisation and district health boards last month failed to produce a new pay agreement.
New Zealand Nurses Organisation organiser Lorraine Lobb said she was hopeful of a large turnout for the rally.
‘‘We hope our members come out and fly the flag, and we’ve got some signs that they can hold up, but what we’re asking is for the public to support our members around the issue of public funding in the health sector.’’
The action is part of a series of rallies throughout the country, with previous gatherings in Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington, Dunedin and Masterton.
The central city location of the rally was a point of difference from some of the other rallies around the country.
‘‘A lot of the rallies have actu- ally been within the hospital area but of course in Invercargill we’re doing something special by taking the rally to town, because the hospital is not quite in the central place of some of the others.’’
A strong public show of support had been seen at the rallies elsewhere in New Zealand, Lobb said.
‘‘It’s around getting public support that we believe that health has been underfunded and as a result of that our nurses and midwives and healthcare assistants have been short-staffed, overworked and now feel under-valued because of the recent offer made by the DHB.’’
The rally was not a strike, and union members were requested to attend outside of their work hours, with Lobb saying ‘‘as far as the staff is concerned [attendance] is in their own time or on their breaks’’.
Nurses, midwives, and associated healthcare workers rejected a pay offer in March that included a 2 per cent annual increase in salary, a $1050 lump-sum payment and a commitment to a pay equity settlement no later than July 1.