MERAS MECA 2017 Negotiations

The context for the 2017 negotiations

  • Not enough midwives
  • Increasing problems with midwifery retention
  • Midwives choosing to work less hours to manage their stress
  • The greater Auckland region a significant area of concern
  • No sustainable solution in sight

Key Issues

The key issues identified by MERAS members in the May MERAS MECA Survey were used as the basis for the issues and claims that we are discussing with the DHB negotiating team.

The survey confirmed your overwhelming support for:

  1. A pay differential for midwives relative to our nursing colleagues
  2. Improved penal rates for night shifts especially on weekends
  3. Improved on-call allowances and a new midwifery availability allowance

In addition, there are a range of other issues that are under discussion which include:

  • Senior Midwives and their pay scale. There is variation amongst DHBs with similar roles on different grades. The starting point for the pay scale is too low as a core midwife on Step 5 with QLP will earn more than someone appointed to a senior role on grade 1.
  • Settlements achieved/under negotiation with other DHB occupational groups.
  • Pay equity arguments as they relate to midwifery.
  • Increasing the starting pay rate for new graduate midwives recognising the length of the midwifery 4-year degree (and additional costs) compared to nursing’s 3-year degree.

The MERAS approach to the renegotiation of the MERAS MECA

We acknowledge that the DHBs are conducting negotiations across many occupational groups but the issues confronting midwives are unique.

The shared goals of the parties in setting up the DHB MERAS midwifery MECA were around sustainable workforce development as a priority issue for the health sector.

The goal of a sustainable workforce looks to be unobtainable if DHB’s continue to only pay lip service to the very real pressures confronting midwifery.

MERAS Conversations with the Ministry of Health this year, which has included DHB’s, confirms a consensus view that there is a recruitment and retention crisis emerging within Tertiary DHB’s.

In these MECA negotiations if the DHBs are serious about addressing the problems confronting midwifery then they need to move away from the previous focus on cost containment and maintaining established relativities in respect to pay and conditions of employment with other DHB occupational groups.

MERAS has reminded the DHB negotiating team that the parties have already committed to the following in the DHB/MERAS MECA as far back as 2005:

“Improving the Delivery of DHB Midwifery Services through sustainable workforce development is critical to the parties to this MECA. MERAS and the DHB’s share a strong interest in getting health workforce development right by building a midwifery workforce and work contexts that are flexible, productive, sustainable and able to deliver on health goals.”

MERAS thinks that the parties need to approach these negotiations from the basis of agreed facts. The Ministry of Health have worked with DHBs in building a national data set on DHB workforce issues. MERAS understands that it contains valuable information in respect to the Midwifery Workforce in respect to its current state and projected future state. During the negotiations in 2017 the parties need to focus their discussions with this goal at its core.

The DHB and MERAS negotiating teams next meeting in early September will be an opportunity to jointly consider this data and discuss what it means for the negotiation of the DHB/MERAS MECA.

MERAS negotiating team: Bernard McIlhone, Caroline Conroy, Kelly McConville - CMDHB and Michelle Archer - SDHB

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