26 Aug 2015

DHBs agree two-year pay deal with nurses

7:02 pm on 26 August 2015

Nurses and midwives employed by district health boards (DHBs) will receive a 2 percent pay rise this year followed by a further 2 percent next year.

 Doctor with a stethoscope writing on a clipboard.

Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

They have been negotiating a new pay agreement since the former multi-employer agreement expired in late February.

The deal, agreed on Monday, covers about 30,000 nurses, midwives, healthcare assistants and enrolled nurses.

It will give nurses a 2 percent rise from 6 July this year, and another 2 percent from July next year.

It lifts the starting rate for a new graduate registered nurse to about $49,500 by next July, while the average full-time pay for a senior nurse at the top of the registered nurses' scale will rise to $66,755 before penal rates.

Nurses described the two-year deal as modest but acceptable, while DHBs said it would provide industrial stability.

They said they were committed to working with nurses to manage the budgetary difficulties some of them would face as a result of the settlement.

New Zealand Nurses Organisation industrial adviser Lesley Harry said the pay offer exceeded the DHBs' funding increase in this year's government budget of 0.3 percent.

"We think that it goes quite a long way to recognising our members' contribution to cost savings in the DHB sector. That's not to say we wouldn't have liked to negotiate more."

She said that under the circumstances it wasn't possible to get a bigger increase.

She said that budgetary restraints would not mean that nurses' jobs were threatened, however, as the deal also included a commitment to maintaining and improving staffing.