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Midwives will picket in Christchurch tomorrow, opposite Christchurch Women’s Hospital.
Two weeks of rolling strikes began across the country last Thursday (22 November) which will see employed midwives striking for two hours, twice a day, through to 5 December.
Midwifery Employee Representation and Advisory Services (MERAS) industrial co-leader, Jill Ovens says she will be in Christchurch to support the picketing midwives, who will make their presence felt, in Hagley Park by the corner of Riccarton and Hagley Aves, gathering from 1030am tomorrow (Monday 26 November).
“Midwives have been asking for their own pay scale to reflect their skills and responsibilities as health professionals, for more than 28 years”, says Ms Ovens. They are not taking this action lightly. In fact, this is the first time in history that New Zealand employed midwives, as a profession, have taken strike action,” says Ms Ovens.
Please refer to the recent media release about the strike action, here
In all, 540 strike notices have been issued by MERAS, the midwives’ union, to the 20 DHBs.
The strike follows the DHBs’ rejection last week of a proposal that had been put forward by MERAS, in urgent mediation last Wednesday, in an attempt resolve the long-running pay dispute.
Midwives are, however, providing “life preserving services” (LPS) – see explanation of LPS on page two.
Additional information regarding MERAS’ pay offer and negotiation:
The MERAS proposal to the DHBs included starting new midwifery graduates on $56,788, equivalent to the second step of the nurses’ pay scale. DHBs currently pay new graduate nurses in their first year to consolidate their clinical experience, whilst midwives self-fund the additional clinical experience during their undergraduate degree at an additional cost of up to $20,000.
MERAS says new graduate midwives then effectively start a step behind nurses on the pay scale for the same level of experience. This is patently unfair.
The MERAS proposal also included a top step for most midwives of $72,945, the same rate as the new step in the NZNO MECA (Multi-Employer Collective Agreement), but it would have been effective at an earlier date in exchange for different backdating arrangements. There were also adjustments at other steps in the pay scales to address anomalies.
Life Preserving Services in a maternity context.....
Care for all women -
Care for all post birth women as clinically indicated, including observations, lochia, fundal assessment, perineum assessment.
Care for all babies needing time dependant observations, medications, examinations, treatment, or feeds.
Breastfeeding care for all women needing one-to-one support.
Response to any obstetric or neonatal emergency call made in the maternity setting.
Care for any woman or baby requiring transfer to a higher level of care or return to DHB of domicile for clinical reasons.
On-call flight or road retrieval by appropriately trained midwives.
Provision of a midwife to clinically co-ordinate (clinical charge midwife, ACMM and/or clinical midwife co-ordinator, shift co-ordinator) for the inpatient maternity services in order to provide clinical triage and emergency response (this role must be filled by a midwife who has experience in this role).
DHB community midwife assessments or outpatients in services where the DHB community midwifery service is over-committed and cumulative delays related to industrial action may prejudice the health of women and babies.