MERAS members covered by the DHBs MECA will be voting on whether to accept or reject the DHBs offer from Wednesday, 7 July, until the ballot closes at 12 noon on Wednesday, 21 July. You will vote YES or NO to the proposed changes to the MECA as outlined in the cover letter and offer from the DHBs.
The ballot includes a vote on industrial action (strikes), as well as a number of other actions to persuade the decision-makers (e.g. your DHBs’ CE, Dr Bloomfield, your local MPs, the Ministers responsible for Health, and Jacinda Ardern).
The plan is to hold a series of rolling strikes, starting in Northland and the three Auckland DHBs in the North and Southern DHB in the South on Monday, 9 August, and moving towards Wellington by Thursday, 12 August. These will go from 11am to 7pm (8 hours). This will trigger urgent mediation and if still unresolved by Thursday, 19 August, there would be another day of industrial action from 8am till 8pm (12 hours). See the presentation slides.
There have been some significant gains in the offer that you will be voting on. However, the pay offer has not changed. The proposed new salary rates are here. The pay increase for Core midwives on Step 7 is just over 1.5% (equivalent to CPI, cost of living) and around 2% for new grads.
The DHBs argue that the outcome of the pay equity process will be a new salary scale for midwives to address the historical undervaluing of your profession. We are nearing the negotiation phase of the pay equity process and while we are confident there will be a pay increase from the pay equity, we have concerns about how well the DHBs’ reps understand midwifery – in particular the level of knowledge and expertise you have gained through the Midwifery degree and subsequent experience gained through continuing education and on-the job skills, the complexity of the problem solving you do, and the intricacy of the physical skills you require.
Our MECA expired on 31 January 2021, but because you had a pay increase last August, the DHBs have been arguing your next pay rise is not due till 1 August this year. The fact that this last pay increase was 1.25% because it was for six months only, and that this was agreed before Covid wage restraints were put in place by the Government, has not so far persuaded them from their hard-line position.
We have been taking an equally hard-line position with the DHBs, especially after meetings by Zoom with your workplace reps last week confirmed that this was an issue over which they were prepared to recommend industrial action when voting opens on Wednesday. We told the DHBs’ advocates to go back to the “powers that be” to reconsider as we feel strongly that this is a breach of good faith, as are their lengthy delays and failure to meet with us.
Your workplace reps are planning paid union meetings during the next two weeks where they will go over the package and you can discuss and vote collectively. The details of the offer are below, along with the presentation slides for the meetings in case you cannot attend a meeting. Where possible, your workplace reps are going to offer Zoom so you can attend the meetings if you are off duty.
You can either place your completed ballot form in the ballot box at your workplace before 12noon, Wednesday, 21 July. If you do not have a ballot box at your workplace, or you are on leave during this period, you can request a special vote from Lisa Donkin at the NZ College of Midwives, email@example.com Please email your completed ballot form to Lisa by 12noon, Wednesday, 21 July.