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Source: Association of Salaried Medical Specialists

We know that the nurses’ strike is going to pose real challenges to staff and patients AND we fully support their cause for decent pay and conditions.

We’ve put together some initial guidance for you on issues which arose during the last nurses’ strike in 2018 that may come up this time.


The Nurses Organisation has voted to strike for eight hours on June 9, over the breakdown of their pay negotiations. We are still hopeful that DHBs will make a more acceptable offer to them. However, if strike action does go ahead, it will clearly impact on ASMS members.

Should all elective services be cancelled?

Yes. Even where staff may be available to provide a service, back up for services may be adversely affected by the strike. DHBs are rescheduling electives in advance so the wards are as empty as possible on the day. The day should be planned to be like a non-festive Christmas Day.

Should SMOs volunteer to work additional hours during the strike?

This is your call. You cannot be compelled to cover the work of a striking nurse. The life preserving services (LPS) agreements that your DHB will have with NZNO should ensure that patients are protected from permanent harm or threat to life.

What would be a fair rate of pay for any hours beyond your normal hours you agree to do?

Our recommendation is that additional work arising from the strike should be paid for as follows:

  • a minimum T2 of your normal hourly rate for any work requested by the employer which is work in addition to (either before or after) normal hours of work for that day
  • a minimum T2 of your normal hourly rate for any clinical work requested where the SMO would otherwise have been on non-clinical duties, and the non-clinical duties have not been re-scheduled. This rate is inclusive of normal pay, so is in effect T1 in addition to normal pay

Should SMOs do nurses’ work?

No. DHBs and NZNO will have agreements for the provision of life preserving services (LPS) to protect lives and avoid permanent harm.

However, sometimes the reality can be messy especially where both doctors and nurses might undertake similar work as part of their normal duties. These duties need to be within your scope of practice (this is the position of the Medical Council). You need to be familiar with and trained in the relevant procedures. Do not do anything you are not comfortable with.

Please let us know if you have any further questions or concerns.

Many of you will want to show support for your nursing colleagues. You can do this in any number of ways, such as wearing a badge, talking with patients about the reasons they are taking industrial action, joining the picket line before or after your workday (or during a break). We know that health workers never take industrial action without compelling reasons. We support uplift of pay and conditions for all our health care workers.