About 10,000 allied health workers are waiting for a pay offer from district health boards (DHBs), and hoping that they will not need to take industrial action.
If the pay offer is not enough, the staff plan to work-to-rule for two weeks from Monday and strike for 24 hours on 16 May. Work-to-rule is when workers only do exactly what the rules say they should do. It can be quite annoying if an employee leaves at exactly the time that they should finish work, or refuses to do cleaning because it is not part of their job description. Work-to-rule is a way for workers to protest. Another way to protest is a strike, in which workers stop working completely.
The allied health workers include anaesthetic technicians, oral health therapists, alcohol and drug clinicians and sterile sciences technicians.
The Public Service Association (PSA) is the union that represents the health workers. It’s organiser, Will Matthews, said many of them were leaving for higher paid jobs in Australia, or working in other kinds of jobs here in New Zealand.
“We have members that could earn more working at KFC or Bunnings than they do working in the health system,” he said.
Allied: working together
District health board: a committee that control hospitals in its district (region). There are 20 district health boards in New Zealand.
take action: do something to make sure that the law is followed. For example: call the police or a lawyer
industrial action: do something to make sure that the laws ensuring the fair treatment of workers are followed. For example: making an official complaint, or going on strike
staff: workers in a company
employee: a worker
refuse: to say no
job description: a document that describes what a worker should do at work
anaesthetic technician: someone who helps to give anaesthetic. Anaesthetic is used to make people go to sleep for surgery.
oral health therapist: someone who works with the mouth, alongside a dentist. A dental hygeinist.
alcohol and drug clinician: someone who helps people with addiction problems
sterile sciences technician: someone who cleans equipment for surgery