Strike: 10,000 allied workers to walk off the job

The workers from 70 different allied health professions include medical technologists and oral therapists. Photo: RNZ.

Health services across the country will be reduced today as 10,000 allied healthcare workers strike for increased pay.

The workers, from 70 different professions, are picketing and marching in an effort organised by the Public Service Association.

Oral therapists working for community clinics, which provide free dental care for under-18-year-olds are among them.

One industry trainer says he regularly warned graduates they will still have to live like poor students when they started working.

New Zealand Oral Health Association executive member Sam Carrington says starting wages for graduates are often just 80 cents above minimum wage, causing most to favour the private sector.

"It's a no-brainer really what they decide to choose, and so this is why the service itself is under constraint at the moment," he says.

"It's been going on like this as long as I can remember."

He says children are frequently being sent to hospital in significant pain from dental issues due to the overwhelming demand on the service.

District health boards have been negotiating with the PSA for 18 months on allied health worker pay.

An offer to the health workers was made last Friday following recommendations made by the Employment Relations Authority, but the PSA quickly rejected it, saying it was below their bottom line.

PSA campaign organiser Will Matthews says it has been a number of years since this group of health workers took action, and it represents frustration felt across the professions.

"The DHBs have failed to produce a fair offer.

"Health workers do not want to strike, it is our last resort.

"After two years of shepherding this country through the Covid-19 pandemic and receiving nothing for it, these workers have had enough."

DHB spokesperson and Hawke's Bay DHB chief executive spokesperson Keriana Brooking says the DHBs respect workers' right to protest, but thinks the offer made on Friday is "decent."

"We understand that the PSA negotiators have not put that out to their members - we would like them to do so."

Brooking says they are working constructively with the PSA, and look forward to settling the dispute.

But the squeeze will be felt across health services today.

Brooking says a number of appointments have been rescheduled, and some services will be reduced to their 'life-preserving' minimum.

She says it's difficult to predict the full effect of the strike because of the range of services performed by allied health workers.


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1 Comment

Go for it

Posted on 16-05-2022 09:46 | By Kancho

This government talks of wanting skilled people to come into the country so why not retain the ones we desperately need by recognising the skill of this essential service provided by these people. The government has not got any idea of priorities and is completely off track, I fear for the next year with their ideological policies.

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