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MERAS, the union representing midwives, has withdrawn its strike for Nelson-Marlborough DHB in light of the continuing state of emergency.
Industrial co-leader Jill Ovens says the union recognises the stress that our members, women, and the community have been through and that this is continuing.
“We have heard from members who have been volunteering to help in the community, supporting those affected by the fires in practical ways, and they felt strongly that we should cancel the strike,” Ms Ovens said.
On the other hand, she said Nelson-Marlborough members wanted to communicate to the DHB their strong support for the strike nationally.
“The MERAS DHBs MECA expired in July 2017, more than 18 months ago, and members have been steadfast in our claim for recognition of the role of midwives and the need to save our World-class maternity service,” Ms Ovens said.
“There is no doubt that the midwifery service in Aotearoa is in crisis with new graduates leaving in less than a year of employment with DHBs because of the stress of working in an environment exacerbated by severe staffing shortages. Newly graduated and experienced midwives are leaving for Australia which is also suffering from a severe shortage of midwives.”
Ms Ovens said the union is also hearing from members in their 50s who say they will not last much longer because they are disillusioned with the lack of visibility and recognition of those in the midwifery profession.
Nelson-Marlborough midwives will be represented at Parliament by two colleagues who will convey a message of solidarity for the striking midwives around Aotearoa.
“We are aware that the DHB Chief Executives are meeting today to consider the proposal that the DHBs’ negotiating team put to MERAS at the facilitation. We are hoping that by Thursday we will also be able to bring good news to our members who have waited a long time for this recognition,” said Ms Ovens.
The *symbolic hikoi continues: * geographically strike action is moving closer to Wellington
Wednesday, 13 February
In Christchurch: Gather at Cathedral Square at 11am, walk down Cashel St to Oxford Tce., and picket by the Avon River opposite the Canterbury DHB Corporate Headquarters until 1pm when there will be a picnic.
In New Plymouth: Picket outside Pukekura Raceway on the grass verge opposite Boys High School, corner of Rogan Street, from 9.45am to 11am.
In Palmerston North: Meet at Papaioea Park (Ruahine St) from 9.45am for apicket outside Palmerston North Hospital.
Thursday, 14 February
In Wellington: Picket outside Hutt Hospital at 9.30am, then midwives will meet Capital and Coast midwives and supporters at Midland Park at 12.30pm. They will then walk along Lambton Quay to Parliament arriving around 1pm where there will be speeches and music. Some Wairarapa and Nelson-Marlborough midwives will be joining the march and rally. We will be meeting with MPs to discuss the well-being of women and their babies in a midwifery service that is stretched to crisis point.
DHBs on strike today and tomorrow:
Wednesday 13th Feb: Taranaki, Whanganui, Mid-central, Hawkes Bay, Canterbury
Thursday 14th Feb: Hutt, Capital & Coast, Wairarapa