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30 000 nurses on strike in New Zealand

12 July 2018
The 24-hour strike began on Thursday, and comes after months of negotiations between the government and nurses broke down on Wednesday. Nurses said they were overworked and underpaid, with unsafe working conditions leading to burnout and exhaustion.

Fighting for quality public services

Public sector workers in New Zealand are fighting for quality public services after years of neglect. Today for the first time in 30 years nurses will strike and teachers are set to follow in August.

Public Services International (PSI) has written an open letter to the Government with support for the striking nurses. PSI Oceania Sub-regional Secretary, Michael Whaites,  argues that the Government should increases public sector investment, rather than reducing them.

Instead of suppressing wages, governments should be increasing funds to Inland Revenue offices and ensuring multinational corporations involved in aggressive tax avoidance are made to pay their fair share.

Labour Party needs to restore public services and labour rights

It was in October 2017 Jacinda Ardern, leader of the New Zealand Labour Party, took office as Prime Minister. Whaites believe it's time for the Labour Party to comply what they promised in the election campaign - where voters also turned down neoliberal ideas:

The industrial action follows years of austerity that lead to wage suppression and inadequate funding for the public services on which all New Zealanders rely. Having elected a progressive government you understand that the need to fight for quality public services continues, and core to that is decent jobs with decent pay. When voters reject neoliberal parties, they rightfully expect new governments to restore public services and labour rights.

Why are the nurses on strike?

  • Acting Prime Minister said the Government proposed a 12,5% wage increase, which was rejected, and that it would take time to address nine years of neglect under the previous National government.
  • The government offered a pay-rise pot of more than half a billion dollars, as well as promising to hire hundreds more nurses around the country

  • Members of the New Zealand Nurses Organisation want pay rises of between 12.5% and 15.9%, to be rolled out in just over two years.

Teachers will also strike

Primary school teachers are also planning a nationwide strike on 15 August, demanding a 16% pay rise. In the past two months bus drivers, cinema workers and fast-food workers have also staged industrial action.

On Monday 4,000 employees at Inland Revenue and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment stopped work for two hours, demanding better pay.

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