AUCKLAND, New Zealand — More than 700 nurses, other hospital workers and supporters marched here May 12 to protest low pay, understaffing and deteriorating conditions in public health care.
“We need more on the floor,” read one hand-written placard, highlighting a near unanimous complaint about inadequate staffing. Marchers told the Militant that tiredness caused by overtime and piled-up responsibilities endanger the quality of care they can provide.
“Two percent won’t pay the rent,” another sign said. The signs explain why members of the New Zealand Nurses Organisation here voted against the contract proposal by district health boards.
All 27,000 workers in the union are currently voting nationwide on whether to authorize a strike in July.
Fifteen such protests were organized by nurses across the country May 12. Union members delivered a petition signed by 47,000 people supporting the nurses’ fight to Parliament in Wellington.
Timed to coincide with International Nurses Day, the national mobilization — the latest in a series of protests by nurses, midwives and others — was called by the organizers of “New Zealand, please hear our voice,” a Facebook page set up for nurses to discuss the conditions they face. It includes posts on chronic understaffing, lack of necessary supplies, missed breaks, unpaid overtime, unfair wages and a myriad of other abuses.