Today thousands of nurses around the country are voting on whether to accept a revised pay offer by district health boards (DHBs) or vote to take industrial action.

It follows many nurses expressing anger at DHBs for low wages and short-staffing.

The new offer includes a 2 per cent a year pay increase, but with a shorter contract, increases the lump sum payment from $350 to $1050 and tightens safe staffing requirements.

The deal will affect about 27,000 nurses, midwives and health care assistants.

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An offer was made in December and rejected by the New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO).

NZNO Industrial Adviser Lesley Harry said nurses wanted to achieve pay rates and conditions that provided a sustainable workforce and healthy workplaces.

The union released a fact sheet to members on January 27 saying that if members decide by a simple majority to reject the proposed new multi-employer collective agreement (MECA) then the next step "will likely involve balloting members on taking industrial action".

"Before a strike relating to collective bargaining can proceed NZNO must hold a secret ballot of NZNO members who would become party to the strike," said the industrial action fact sheet.

On February 21, NZNO delegates handed over to district health board MECA lead advocate, Kevin McFadgen, 15,000 signatures along an with an open letter supporting a better deal for nurses.

"Nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants are the heart of our public healthcare services. Their skills, hard work and compassion keep all New Zealanders happy, safe, and healthy.

"I support better pay and healthy workplaces in our public healthcare services for our precious nursing and midwifery teams. Please keep our local health services safe and sustainable by delivering our nurses a better deal," The letter read.

In January, Health Minister David Clark told Nursing Review that he understood nurses' and other health workers' hopes for better salaries under the new Government but the was reality was that "not everyone's expectations will be met".

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The proposed deal will be decided by March 23.