By Gurbir Singh, Hamilton (New Zealand), July 12, 2018:
All non-essential hospital care came to a halt across New Zealand today after around 30,000 nurses New Zealand walked off the job at 7am, after a last minute effort to avoid their 24-hour nurses strike failed yesterday (Wednesday).
Hundreds of elective or non-urgent surgical procedures and all out-patient appointments for every hospital across the country have been cancelled for today and would have to be rescheduled. Family members of in-care patients were asked to care for their patients at hospitals.
Some nurses are still working today to help hospitals provide life-preserving services, and emergency care to operate. Many volunteers have shown up to help.
This is the first strike by nurses in 30 years and the nurses' union (New Zealand Nurses Organisation) have rejected four pay offers, estimated to be worth $520 million, from the District health Boards(DHBs) in just over a year.
In the latest offer, the nurses would have received an increase from 9 percent to 12.5 percent. The Nurses Organisation is, however, seeking a pay increase of 12.5 to 15.9 percent, to be rolled out over 25 months.
The DHBs and the government have maintained there was no more money available for nurses' pay negotiations.
The Union has 50,00 members, 29,500 of whom are covered by the Multi-Employer Collective Agreement are employed in hospital nurses, and are on strike.
In a Facebook post, Joanne Wong, a Nurse says nurses are fighting for what they're worth.
"We need to retain our nurses here, we need to attract others into this profession, our health system depends on that. Please remember the decision to strike was not an easy one, but we know we need more for ourselves and for you as patients," she writes.
Some commentators have criticised the Government for spending $2.3 billion on defence planes while not offering more money to nurses.
Over 4,000 public-sector employees of New Zealand's Inland Revenue Department and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment also struck work for two hours on 9th July (Monday) this week. This was the first industrial action by IRD in 22 years.
Gurbir Singh is a New Zealand-based Freelance Feature Writer & Journalist. He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org