Nurses will 'absolutely' reject pay offer

The AM Show 18/06/2018

Nurses appear set to reject the Government's pay offer and go on strike next month, the first nationwide industrial action in the sector since the 1980s.

While the results of a vote held by the union's 27,000-strong membership won't be out until later on Monday, registered nurse Danni Wilkinson told The AM Show they will "absolutely" be walking off the job.

"I've spoken to one nurse who was going to vote yes, and everyone else I've spoken to is emphatic - no."

The current offer includes a staggered pay rise of about 9 percent, and a $2000 one-off lump sum. Ms Wilkinson said in May that would only halve the pay gap between here and in Australia.

But National Party leader Simon Bridges says it's more than "a mechanic, a hairdresser, a lawyer" will be getting this year.

"I'm all for them getting more wages, but it's got to be with a growing economy. The problem with all this industrial stuff is I think it gets in the way of that."

He told The AM Show National couldn't give nurses significant payrises during National's so-called 'rock-star economy' because of the combined effect of the global financial crisis and the Christchurch earthquakes.

While Mr Bridges thinks they should get paid more, in his view they want too much.

"They're emboldened because they know they've got their mates in power who've talked a big game with the unions. I predict they'll be holding out for more."

Ms Wilkinson said while National was in power, nurses were encouraged to take what they could get and hope their cause would become an election issue.

"It's been an ongoing problem, so we've fallen further and further behind. Promises haven't been kept and now we're united and everyone's listening to each other, and we've realised it's not just one or two people who are unhappy - we're all unhappy."

The two-day strike is scheduled for July 5 and July 12. Ms Wilkinson says contingencies will be in place for emergencies, and it's "unlikely" anyone will die as a result.

"We will provide life-saving, life-preserving measures. There will still be some nurses available... Doctors will have to fill in the gaps."

Watch the full interview with Danni Wilkinson above.

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