Hospital midwives who are members of the Midwifery Employee Representation and Advisory Services (MERAS), have settled their Multi-Employer Collective Agreement (MECA) with the country’s DHBs.
The MECA expired on 31 January this year and MERAS midwives had wanted a new MECA in place well before that. However that didn’t happen and MERAS has been negotiating since the strike action planned for 17 August was withdrawn due to Covid. MERAS Co-Leader (Industrial), Jill Ovens, says it is a relief to have reached agreement because it means we can concentrate on settling the pay equity claim for DHB-employed midwives.
“Part of the settlement for the MECA negotiations was a commitment by the DHBs to getting started on the Midwifery Pay Equity claim, which had been on hold for months. We were concerned that the Midwifery claim would have to wait till after the Nurses’ claim was settled. As it is, we start negotiations for the Midwifery claim on 7th October.”
Ms Ovens says an increase of $5800 on midwives’ salary rates includes a $4000 “down payment” on the pay equity settlement that will result in new salary rates now, with more to come when the pay equity negotiations have been concluded. There is a $6000 pro-rated lump sum, also from the pay equity, payable on ratification of the MECA. The DHBs have also agreed to a $600 lump sum payment, pro-rated for part-timers and casuals who were MERAS members as of 1 September 2021.
“All MERAS members covered by the MECA will get an increase backdated to August 2. We are confident that that the pay equity process (which will hopefully be concluded before Christmas) will result in a new salary scale for midwives with a significant pay increase,” she says.
MERAS members were presented with the offer in early September and the voting closed today [17 September] resulting in the formal announcement today.
Jill Ovens and colleague MERAS Co-leader Caroline Conroy say they are pleased for the MERAS members that they can now move forward to the next step in recognising the hard work, knowledge, responsibility and value of employed midwives all over the country.
MEDIA – For further information: Jill Ovens 021 598 530 meras.midwife.org.nz
The offer also includes:
- $1000 in a CPD (Continuing Professional Development) fund for every MERAS midwife each year, to carry over if unused, and which will cover your College of Midwives fees.
- New safe staffing provisions and an independent review of CCDM (Trendcare).
- A Midwifery Career Pathway and a dedicated process to evaluate new midwifery positions.
- Inclusion of the MERAS Rostering Guidelines and new meal and rest break provisions.
- New midwifery employees to go on the terms and conditions of the MERAS MECA as we now have the majority membership in every DHB.
- Coverage of maternity care assistants who are midwifery students working in a housekeeping role, giving them the opportunity to earn money while they are studying for their degree.
- Non-union midwives will pay a bargaining fee to MERAS, which will be the same as the union subs, payable over the next two years.
- A policy will be developed to ensure flight midwives are looked after by the receiving DHB following a survey MERAS conducted last year.
- Better support around sentinel/adverse events, including paid special leave if needed (this won’t come off sick leave entitlement).
- MERAS to work with Midwifery Leaders on flexible work arrangements, including working from home where appropriate.
- Sick leave will not be pro-rated and all 10 days will be paid at relevant daily pay.
- ACC top-up for injuries sustained through workplace assaults (won’t come off sick leave)
- Whāngai recognised in parental leave
- Designated senior midwives to be paid O/T for coming in to respond to VRM after hours
- Encourage DHBs to have designated senior midwife on all shifts and wards in secondary and tertiary units
The increase of $5800 on salary rates includes a $4000 “down payment” on the pay equity settlement that will result in new salary rates now, with more to come, plus a $6000 pro-rated lump sum, also from the pay equity, payable on ratification of the MECA.
Core midwives on Step 7 will be on $84,153 (a 7.4% increase) and new grads will start on $65,022 (an increase of nearly 10%). All MERAS members covered by the MECA will get an increase backdated to 2 August. This includes Designated Senior Midwives on Grade 5 and above, breaking the pay freeze for those earning over $100,000. The new rates keep the 1.25% differential for midwives because of the increase MERAS won in August 2020.
The DHBs have also agreed to a $600 lump sum payment, pro-rated for part-timers and casuals who were MERAS members as of 1 September 2021. The offer includes dates to get going with the negotiations of the midwifery pay equity process in September and October. We are confident that the pay equity process will result in a new salary scale for employed midwives, with a significant pay increase. Also included in this settlement is the reimbursement of College of Midwives (Professional Membership Organisation) fees from the $1000 a member Continuing Professional Development (CPD) fund.
The vote on the proposed settlement opened on Weds, 8 September and closed on Fri, 17 September.