Last Monday 20th August MERAS met with the DHB negotiation team to recommence discussions on the MERAS MECA. This is the beginning of the journey to achieve a MECA and pay structure that reflects the role and responsibilities for an employed midwife.
This is the progress that was made at last weeks meeting:
Provisions relating to education, training & leave
There was agreement that a minimum of 4 hours would be paid for attendance at Midwifery Standards Review. The minimum hours agreed will still enable midwives who have to travel some distance to reviews being able to claim more hours as required. There was also agreement for a working party to update and aim for a consistent approach to the education allowances available to midwives.
It was agreed that on-call rates would be $8 per hour ($10 for public holidays) and the introduction of the telephone on-call payment.
Higher Duties Allowance
Agreed that this would apply after 3 days rather than the 5 days currently in the MERAS MECA Clause 12.0 C.
Additional funds for staffing
Agreed that some of the $38 million that has been provided by the government for additional staffing will be available for additional midwives.
MERAS Staffing Standards for maternity facilities document
There was discussion about how this document could be referenced in the MECA and there was a positive response to the idea of a designated midwife 24/7 in secondary and tertiary units. Further discussions will continue on these two items at the next meeting.
Pay Equity Claim
Discussion around how the pay equity claim will be progressed. Final details still being developed.
Pay differential for midwives from nursing pay scale.
Discussion about the differing role of midwives and the workforce shortage. The DHB negotiating team will discuss this with the CEO group when they next meet in two weeks.
Senior midwife grades & pay scale
Discussed work completed to date by MERAS in relation to senior midwife roles and pay grades. There was agreement for a working party to review the pay structure for senior midwives and how grades are determined.
Maximum number of continuous shifts
We could not reach agreement to reduce these from 7 to 6 as stated in the MECA for 8 hour shifts. This claim has been withdrawn.
Several technical changes were agreed which will improve layout, correct clause numbering and typos etc.
The date for the next meeting has not yet been confirmed but will occur after members of the DHB negotiating team have met with the CEO group.
Jill Ovens & Caroline Conroy