Nurses have lifted their strike notices after a revised pay offer totalling $408 million and commitment to work towards settling a pay equity claim by early next year.
Last month 30,000 nurses walked off the job when contract negotiations broke down.
The New Zealand Nurses Organisation members had planned three more strikes across July, August and September, but today Little said there had been further progress in discussions with district health boards (DHBs) and the strikes were called off.
"It's encouraging that the discussions between NZNO and DHBs over the nurses' employment agreement have resulted in a new offer that will go out to nurses, and that the union has lifted strike notices for July 29 and 30," Little said.
"Now that DHBs no longer have to spend time preparing to deal with the major disruption a strike would cause we can focus instead on resolving the main issue, which is the nurses' pay-equity claim."
Little said the latest offer would cost $408m over the course of the agreement, 27 months.
Nurses had been after an increase of 17 per cent to the total amount of money paid in salaries, with an immediate 10 per cent lift.
Little said he would not say what percentage was offered in the end, leaving that until after nurses had considered it, but that the 17 per cent request was largely driven out of frustration at slow progress with a pay equity claim lodged three years ago.
Little said officials had been working hard putting together a "comprehensive and principled offer" on pay equity.
"We are a month away from tabling something that means we can address the long-standing historical unfairness that nurses have faced," Little said.
"Nurses have been underpaid for years, largely because it's a female-dominated profession.
"Settling the pay-equity claim means that for the first time, their work will be recognised and valued as much as comparable professions.
"Labour has a proud track record on these issues and we have already increased nurses' pay by more than 10 per cent in the four years we have been in Government."
Little said that would cost "hundreds of millions of dollars" and he hoped the pay equity claim would be settled by the end of the year or early next year.
Along with the offer and pay equity progress, Little said the deal also included commitments for a ministerial review of the Safer Staffing Accord, and a recruitment campaign with the NZNO to fill the 1450 current vacancies.
The offer that was going out to nurses to settle their employment agreement was within the Government's employment relations expectations for the public sector, Little said.
NZNO industrial services manager Glenda Alexander said she did not want to go into detail about the offer before members had a chance to review it.
But she said it had now addressed some of the key issues they were concerned about around fair pay and safe staffing.
Alexander said she expected it to take about 10 days for members to decide via an online ratification process.