I back the nurses 100 per cent.
Where else would you find a profession so passionate and committed to better pay and conditions, yet so determined not to strike.
They are a rare breed of principles and integrity.
Their battle's been long fought, and there'd be sympathy if they do end up striking, but they're holding off and requesting urgent mediation instead. The two-day strike action floated for next month is clearly a last ditch resort.
BUT MIKE HOSKING DISAGREES
• He says: Unions and strike threats are a waste of time - all they do is drag NZ back to the 1970s
You can't say they haven't thrashed every avenue of possible resolution.
They're giving the DHBs another chance, they're showing grit and goodwill wanting to get back around the table.
Nine per cent over 18 months is a good offer - but it's not enough. Think about the low base they're starting from.
Nurses have been underpaid for years. They've been ignored by governments for too long. This latest offer would only halve the pay gap between here and Australia. Yes it's the largest offer made in more than a decade, blah blah blah, but actually, it's about more than just the money now.
It's also conditions. The culture needs to change, the bullying needs to stop, staffing levels need addressing, the mental health of nurses needs to be given attention.
All of these things can't be fixed in the sweep of a hand of one government in one round no, but if this dispute highlights anything, it's that we can't keep ignoring the nurses.
The DHBs have no one to blame but themselves for this mess, the way they've handled the nurses hasn't been good enough, and has ironically highlighted everything the nurses hate - being treated like second class citizens, learning things through the media, being given ultimatums.
Perhaps if this had been handled better, nurses wouldn't have got so rarked up.
Perhaps if the DHBs had been less aggro at the outset, we wouldn't be looking down the barrel of strike action in a month.
The shame here is that there will be people who've lost sympathy with the nurses.
Our appetite for the public airing of dirty laundry is limited.
Worse though, there'll be nurses who've already gone: had enough, burnt out and aren't bothering to stick around for more deliberations and angst.
I hope for two things: One that nurses do eventually get a deal they deserve, and two that they know there's still a lot of us in their corner.