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Midwives rally tomorrow for strike at Hospital

Midwives will rally outside Wellington Hospital in Newtown tomorrow between 10.00am and 12.00pm as part of a national day of action to support the Midwives strike.

Midwives have been striking for two hours, twice a day for the last two weeks. Their union, MERAS, returns to the negotiating table on Friday with hopes of resolving the long-running pay dispute.

District Health Boards (DHBs) are holding to the position that MERAS members should accept the pay scales agreed to as a result of a negotiation with the nurses’ union.

MERAS, which represents over 85 per cent of DHB midwives. was not part of those negotiations, and the union doesn’t believe their members should accept the same deal, saying that midwives are their own profession and have a unique set of skills that necessitates a separate pay scale.

MERAS representative Jess Maxwell pointed to the problems with retaining skilled workers.

“I have done a four- year degree and come out with significant student debt. I could be better paid doing a job that has far less responsibility than midwifery”.

Midwifery staffing shortages have been reported across the country. A DHB workforce report says there are fewer DHB-employed midwives at a time when the population is growing and the level of acuity and complexity is increasing.

Wellington MERAS member Azure Ford says said she is rallying on Wednesday because she feels passionate about midwifery.

“We have a world- renowned model of midwifery care in NZ and it would be great if our DHBs could recognise and value our worth a bit more.”