A spokeswoman for Rotorua nurses says local staff think strike action is inevitable after the latest pay offer was rejected.

Nurses have said no to the district health boards' pay offer but are holding off on strike action for now.

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation has requested urgent mediation, to stave off a two-day strike next month.

Rotorua registered nurse Tracey Sebire, who organised the Rotorua nurses' march last month, said she cannot see the DHBs' position changing.

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"I know we would all like to have a resolution prior to strike action being taken – we're hoping that will happen.

"This is not just about money, it's also about the conditions on offer."

She said the nurses organisation had emailed all union members, telling them of the results of the strike ballot and asking what they felt were the issues they wanted addressed.


She said almost all the Rotorua nurses she had spoken to were upset by the way the DHBs had announced the latest offer last month.

"There was disgust and disappointment after we found out about the offer through the media," she said.

She said the latest offer made it sound like all nurses would be getting an annual wage of $93,000, which was not the case. "That figure is the absolute maximum a senior nurse could earn taking into account overtime and extra shifts – not the normality.

"It has also been presented to sound like DHBs have doubled their offer and they have not. It has increased from 2 per cent to 3 per cent.

"I think it has made nurses come across like a greedy bunch, but that is not the case. All we are seeking is pay parity, safer working conditions and relief from understaffing. I believe if the first two are taken care of, the third will sort itself out."

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She said nurses wanted the public to be given all of the facts before making their minds up.

"We've all been so tired we've made the wrong turn on the way home or forgotten where we were heading, but if [nurses are] at that point in our work people can die, and we don't want that.

"Ward nurses don't get paid overtime, they are told to get better at time management if they cannot fit everything into an eight-hour day."

She said short-staffing within hospitals meant most nurses were doing overtime or extra shifts.

"The industry is short-staffed because nurses are not being replaced as quickly as they are leaving - and they are leaving for a variety of reasons.

"Some suffer burn-out, some leave to have families, some retire, and we are losing lots of nurses to Australia because of better pay and better work conditions."

Sebire said most New Zealand nurses also faced difficult situations on the job.

"Emergency nurses are at the frontline and are often exposed to verbal and sometimes physical abuse. Nurses working within mental health face threats more regularly. Theatre nurses are exposed to many diseases.

"We don't do it for the money, we do it because we love it. All we are asking for is better conditions and pay parity so we can continue being there for others."

Health Minister David Clark said he was disappointed at the nurses' decision to not accept the latest offer, and there was no more money in the kitty.

"It is the best offer we've been able to support, we've been clear about that," Clark said.

DHBs are vowing to avert strike action, saying they'll do everything they can to settle the employment agreement.

DHB spokeswoman Helen Mason said they would go into the urgent mediation nurses wanted.

"Nurses, midwives and health-care assistants are a highly respected and valued part of the modern team-based approach to health services, and we are extremely concerned about the threat of industrial action.

"The offer on the table is an excellent offer, and it's about much more than base pay rates. DHBs are committed to safer staffing, which includes a commitment to an additional 500 nurses to alleviate staffing concerns.

"DHBs have committed to working with NZNO on pay equity and nurses' concerns about pay equity."

Mason said the offer would invest an extra half billion dollars in staff and improved working conditions.

She said they had doubled the pay rates from their original offer, so no more money was available.

"Some of the things that will be important to nurses will be that DHBs meet their commitments on safe staffing and more nurses."

If the July 5 and 12 strikes go ahead, DHBs would delay non-urgent services.

"If the strike goes ahead it will be a really significant national event, there hasn't been a nurses' strike in 30 years, and we take that seriously."