David Fisher is a senior reporter for the NZ Herald.

Thousands of workers preparing to walk out as DHB staff plan strike action

The Public Service Association members at the health boards - which run hospitals and provide health care across Auckland - voted this afternoon on taking strike action. Photo / iStock
The Public Service Association members at the health boards - which run hospitals and provide health care across Auckland - voted this afternoon on taking strike action. Photo / iStock

Strike action over pay at Auckland's hospital boards is set to cause three days of disruption across the health sector with more than 3000 workers preparing to walk out.

The Public Service Association members at the health boards - which run hospitals and provide health care across Auckland - voted this afternoon on taking strike action.

The strikes will be held on three days in April with the union citing stalled negotiations over a new collective contract for those working in a range of services including anaesthetic technicians, pharmacists, physiotherapists, mental health workers and occupational therapists.

The PSA says it had told the health boards its members will return to work in cases of emergency and it would work with DHBs "to provide life-preserving services".

In a statement, PSA National Secretary Erin Polaczuk said the health boards needed to come up with an offer which met union concerns.

"Analysis from the Council of Trade Unions has revealed a $1.7 billion funding gap in health. Now we hear DHBs don't have enough money to pay staff their promised salary increase."

She said Minister of Health Jonathan Coleman had a "crisis in his portfolio".

The statement quoted PSA board member and mental health worker Andy Colwell as saying members were "reluctant to take action".

"We want to deliver quality care every day - but the DHBs' proposals to cut our pay and conditions while not addressing our concerns about workloads and resourcing leave us no choice".

A spokesman for the three health boards said they were confident the issues would be resolved before the strike took place.

He said the health boards believed they had put forward a fair offer.

A spokesman for Mr Coleman said: "It's totally incorrect for the PSA to claim there's a $1.7 billion funding gap in health as funding has increased by $4 billion under this Government to a record $15.9 billion."

- NZ Herald

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