Nurses will vote from Monday on whether to take two full days of strike action as they demand better pay and working conditions from District Health Boards.
The vote follows members' rejection of a 2 per cent pay rise from DHBs.
NZ Nurses Organisation members including nurses and midwives will get their ballot papers by email and post from April 23, the union said in a press statement.
An independent panel was set up last week to try to resolve the impasse between nurses and DHBs. If nurses agree, strike action will go ahead if the panel cannot reach an agreement.
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The vote follows two weeks of protests outside hospitals across the country. More than 400 nurses and midwives rallied outside Auckland City Hospital yesterday. This afternoon hundreds more staff are expected to protest outside North Shore Hospital, in between work shifts.
The decision had been announced to members this morning, NZNO industrial services manager Cee Payne said.
"The possible strike action will consist of two strikes for 24 hours each commencing at 7.00am. The committee have proposed a week in between the two strikes," she said.
The ballot will be open for 30 days, with postal ballots due back on May 22 and online votes due on May 25 at 5pm.
"The commitment to secure safe patient care and a salary structure that incentivises nurses and midwives to remain in the profession has led the committee to this important decision. Strike action is a last resort if a settlement acceptable to our members cannot be achieved," she said.
"NZNO must give 14 days' notice to the DHBs should a vote to strike be the majority decision from all those that submit their ballot. This means the dates of a possible strike are early July.
As soon as DHBs are notified of an impending strike, they must develop a contingency plan to ensure life-preserving services continue, union chief executive Memo Musa said.
"The statutory Code of Good Faith for the public health sector requires employers to provide for patient safety by ensuring that life-preserving services are available to prevent a serious threat to life or permanent disability during any strike action.