Igniting the industrial flame in primary health care: NZNO's industrial commitment to the primary health care sector has grown significantly over the last few years and is set to increase further.
Primary health care
Primary health care (Forecasts and trends)
|Publication:||Name: Kai Tiaki: Nursing New Zealand Publisher: New Zealand Nurses' Organisation Audience: Trade Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health; Health care industry Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2010 New Zealand Nurses' Organisation ISSN: 1173-2032|
|Issue:||Date: July, 2010 Source Volume: 16 Source Issue: 6|
|Topic:||Event Code: 200 Management dynamics; 010 Forecasts, trends, outlooks; 220 Strategy & planning; 360 Services information Computer Subject: Company business management; Market trend/market analysis|
|Organization:||Organization: New Zealand Nurses Organisation; New Zealand Nurses Organisation|
|Geographic:||Geographic Scope: New Zealand Geographic Code: 8NEWZ New Zealand|
It has been a stow but steady journey over the Last five years to
ignite the industrial flame in one of NZNO's most complex
sectors--primary health care (PHC). This culminated last month in the
NZNO board of directors' decision to support a PHC industrial
adviser. This decision recognises the importance and growing influence
of PHC has in the health sector.
Members in PHC are some of the most difficult to organise industrially due to the large number of worksites, the array of employers and the small size of workplaces. There are multiple funding sources, with both public and private sector money involved. Change in the way services are delivered is dynamic, with the emergence of primary health organisations and new initiatives contained in the nine expressions of interest now being considered by the Ministry of Health, eg integrated family health centres and nurse-ted clinics.
All these factors make it even more important that NZNO is resourced to support members in their working lives. The "organising model" we use to guide our work in the union strives to build leadership in the sector, encourage member activism and build power in the sector through more members. If we succeed in these three aspects, we will be better placed to win on issues Like pay equity, access to professional development and healthy workplaces for our PHC members.
This year our work agenda is huge. NZNO is renegotiating the PHC multi-employer collective agreement (MECA). Our target of 600 parties has just been reached, which means more than 50 percent of members working in general practice now enjoy the pay and conditions of the MECA. This is double the number covered five years ago and is a significant achievement.
For the first time, we have embarked on a national collective agreement for prison nurses and bargaining is underway in a positive manner. We are also renegotiating our national Plunket collective agreements, the national Blood Service collective agreement and Healthcare NZ and McKesson's collective agreements. Our goat in all these negotiations is to continue to aim for pay parity with the relevant district health board (DHB) groups. We are already close to achieving this in some of these agreements.
The campaign for our priority project--Te Rau Kokiri (TRK)--has been reinvigorated. More than 18 months ago, Maori and iwi employers in TRK signed a collective agreement with NZNO, but would not provide a pay increase to match DHB rates unless they could get additional government funding of $11 million. Since then, despite a Health Select Committee report recommending the funding be Looked at by a working party, the government has failed to deliver the additional funding required for pay equity.
A new tohu, recruitment posters, a postcard campaign (see sector reports, Kai Taiki Nursing New Zealand, May, June 2010) and the weaving of a mat linking up our regional members are initiatives underway to gain support from the public and MPs. In a recent letter to Associate Minister of Health Tariana Turia, NZNO made this plea: "Unless we achieve pay equity, our highly prized and overworked 'Maori for Maori' work-force will continue to be a limited resource, and new initiatives will continue to struggle and fail.
"We urge you to look beyond the symptoms of ill health in our communities to the cause. Inequalities in the health sector are a barrier to reducing inequalities in our people. Only when our kaimahi are valued appropriately will our whanau, hapu and iwi receive the skilled and culturally responsive care they deserve.
"Any-future-funding of Maori for Maori services should address these issues of disparity and also be realistic on the pressures and demands of the current Maori work-force. Our members working for Maori and iwi health providers have the skills, qualifications and experience that are essential to improve health outcomes for Maori."
Tangible support from all NZNO members in other sectors is sorely needed to support the 400 members covered by the TRK MECA and to win what is rightly deserved for those working to improve health outcomes for Maori. We need to turn that flame into a roaring bonfire!
Building union density
In addition to the new PHC industrial adviser position, the board also approved funding for dedicated resources to help build union density in the Maori and iwi sector. More union members in these sites will be critical if during the campaign we have to revert to a more traditional industrial response. We know from experience in other sectors, eg aged care, that delegates and activists are key to building union member density.
New initiatives in the last two years in NZNO have meant that we now have a PHC national delegates committee, dedicated PHC activist education programmes and the Primary Action national newsletter. Not only do these activities build solidarity across the sector, but they also aim to give PHC members the skills and knowledge to be able to raise issues with employers and articulate members' concerns.
There is cause for optimism--much has already been achieved--but there is also a great deal more to do. Our industrial flame in PHC is becoming stronger--you can help make it burn brighter.
By NZNO industrial services manager Cee Payne and co-ordinating organiser Chris Wilson
|Gale Copyright:||Copyright 2010 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.|