3 December 2019
The purpose of this email is to update you on the work being undertaken under the mediation agreement between the College and the Ministry towards improved pay and a new contract for LMC midwives. The College is continuing to work closely with MERAS in support of the work being undertaken to improve the pay and working conditions for employed midwives, namely the Pay Equity process, and the work under the Accord, which is aimed at supporting recruitment and retention of employed midwives. MERAS continues to communicate the progress of this work directly and regularly with its members.
Update on work under the mediation agreement
- Business contribution payment
Members eligible for this payment will have received their letter of offer from the Ministry of Health. We were surprised to learn the proposed date for the first payment was not until March 2020, and raised concerns about this with the Ministry. In response the Ministry informed us that the payment date had been selected based on last years’ experience as it will allow midwives who have queries to have them resolved before payment is made. The Ministry stated that it considered this to be fair, as all midwives will be paid on the same day. We have reiterated our concern again about the delayed payment date and communicated that we do not consider this to be sufficient rationale for withholding payment to those midwives who have accepted the initial offer. We have been informed today that the Ministry will now be able to process a pre-Christmas business contribution payment.
- Fair and reasonable pay for LMC midwives
Under the terms of our mediation agreement with the Ministry of Health a ‘job analysis’ of the LMC midwife role has been independently completed. This work used comparator occupations to determine what fair and reasonable pay for a full time LMC midwife is. This report has been presented to Ministers and will be used to inform budget bids. It is not currently publicly available so we are unable to share the results.
- Progress towards a new contract model as an alternative to Section 88
As publicly stated by a Ministry of Health official at the College conference in 2018, the intention has been for a new national agreement for primary midwifery services to be in place by July 2020. The College mediation team has been working on a revised service specification and presented a draft to the Ministry in early October. We have yet to receive formal feedback from the Ministry. The development of a new contract model for community midwives includes an improved payment schedule (a blended payment model) and a new arrangement to administer the payments. The College has proposed that a dedicated organisation be established to administer payments, which could also provide support services for LMC midwives to manage the demands of providing a 24/7 service in the community. The Ministry has informed us that the decision to implement a new contract model is a political one, which will require agreement by Cabinet. To this end, we understand that a cabinet paper has been prepared to provide information for the Cabinet members, however at this stage no decisions have been made. Overall, the College is concerned that the pace of progress to fully implement a new contract by July 2020 is too slow.
- What is the College doing to expedite progress?
The protracted nature of these negotiations is distressing for midwives and the mediation team alike. The College has been active in seeking engagement with politicians across all political parties to raise awareness of the issues, and we have used every opportunity to link the workforce issues that are arising to the length of time it is taking to achieve resolution via multiple media opportunities. In order to gain public support for these issues and ensure politicians are aware of the urgency and depth of concern, the College is initiating a social media campaign #backmidwives which involves a petition and digital postcards to Ministers. We will provide you with further information later this week, and we urge you to share the campaign with your networks to maximise the support we receive. We have also commissioned an independent cost-benefit analysis of the investment in midwifery which will be useful to inform politicians about the value for money that a well-supported midwifery-led maternity system will provide.
The hospital and community midwifery workforces are interdependent so shortages or stressed working conditions for one group will affect the other. Please be assured that the College is working hard for all midwives to address the issues of workforce shortages, pay and working conditions at every opportunity.
PO Box 21-106 | Edgeware | Christchurch 8143