Medical Physicists who are responsible for the radiation equipment that treats cancer patients in the public health sector are resuming strike action in support of settling their collective agreement. The strike action commences next week in the six DHBs* that offer radiation therapy for cancer treatment. At this stage the strike action is planned to continue through May and June.
Strike action was suspended in March due to the surge in Omicron cases and the pressure that the Health System found itself under. ‘Our members decided to pause strike action so that there was not additional pressure on a very stretched Heath System at that time,’ remarked APEX Advocacy Lead David Munro today.
Despite being in bargaining since August last year, which has included mediation and facilitation by the Employment Relations Authority, APEX is little closer to securing an employer offer that recognises the value of this essential, but small and fragile, workforce. Government policy guidance that prohibits pay rises for health employees paid annual salaries of more than $100,000/annum and limits pay increases for any employee paid more than $60,000/annum has severely hampered this bargaining. ‘To still only be offered a pay increase of less than 2% for most members from one year after the previous MECA expired is risible.’ Mr Munro remarked. ‘Inflation is running at nearly 7%, a physicist trains for at least eight years before they are qualified, and many are now looking at job opportunities overseas. There can be no surprise then that there is overwhelming support for resuming strike action.’ Mr Munro concluded.
What is needed now to resolve this dispute is for the employers to recognise the very real concerns of this workforce and to make an offer that will settle this MECA. Then our members can concentrate on what they joined the public health system to do; i.e. providing world class cancer treatment to New Zealanders.