Jim Moffat has a clear message.
“Pay New Zealand nurses properly now,” reads his placard.
The 79-year-old said he is alive today thanks to the medical profession.
He was diagnosed with cancer and underwent major life-saving surgery seven years ago.
After reading a Otago Daily Times editorial outlining the continued struggle of members of the New Zealand Nurses Organization over back pay, Mr Moffat was ‘spurred’ into action.
“We mature people need to be active,” Moffat said.
“I thought I might be joined by others but that didn’t actually happen.
“But I got great feedback from the nurses themselves.”
Nurses were crossing the Tasman in search of better paying jobs, Mr Moffat said.
“And we have a new hospital being built…and there won’t be any nurses.”
The nurses’ union and the Public Service Association (PSA) had been negotiating with district health boards over achieving gender pay equity since 2018 and were to present a proposed settlement to their members.
Instead, last month they ordered a full legal review of the proposed pay equity deal due to the backlash they received from members in response to the proposal.
Some nurses said the settlement as proposed would deny them more than $20,000.
Health Minister Andrew Little told RNZ at the time that the nurses’ union change of course was a rollback on pay settlement, and he called it “peculiar”.
He said there was no more money to invest in the case.
Meanwhile, the PSA has since served notice on the Southern District Health Board that from Monday next week until May 20, staff will follow working hours to the letter, including no work after that staff should complete their shifts and stop work to take all authorized breaks.
In addition, throughout Monday, May 16, the staff would strike and withdraw from their duties.
PSA DHB campaigns organizer Will Matthews from Auckland said the strike notices would affect more than 600 healthcare workers in southern DHB, excluding doctors and nurses.
“The government is pretty badly exposed on its treatment of health workers across the sector at the moment,” he said.