APEX is concerned that the government pay freeze on workers in the public sector including DHBs will impact further on patient care.
The Health Sector is made up of numerous skilled and essential workforces spread across over 40 different professions.
“Recruitment and retention for some of these health professions is at crisis point. Bluntly, some professionals labelled by this policy as “highly paid” will require investment (salary increases) to maintain viability.” says Dr Deborah Powell, National Secretary of APEX, the specialist union representing allied scientific and technical health practitioners. “Whilst these professionals are passionate about working for the public health system, it is nonetheless hard to resist the lure of constantly increasing remuneration in the private sector, particularly in the face of a pay freeze in the public sector. And once these professionals leave, they are all but irreplaceable in the current environment; we are not growing enough of our own, and overseas recruitment (too long relied upon in this country) is now also fraught with difficulty.” Dr Powell continued.
Radiation therapists, physicists, perfusionists, psychologists and laboratory scientists are amongst some of our most critical shortage specialties. Is the government, for example, content to watch cancer wait lists for Radiation Therapy grow whilst we suffer ongoing shortages of radiation therapists due to inadequate pay? Or for mental health patients waiting to see a clinical psychologist?
Responding to the government’s announcement today Dr Powell said that “the policy makes a mockery of the bargaining processes and would override the deliberately flexible bargaining mechanisms now long entrenched in the Employment Relations Act. That Act quite deliberately does not allow for all of government wage orders over the top of bargaining for collective agreements, something these policy documents are seeking to override.”
“Whilst there can be no quarrel that government will be concerned about wage expectations in the face of the financial pressure on the country arising from the Covid-19 crisis, this does not create an excuse to impose a one-size fits all pay restraint system to bargaining in the Health Sector.” says Dr Deborah Powell.
Dr Powell further questions why the health sector is expected to shoulder the burden of defraying government debt occasioned by paying wage subsidies to private sector employers during COVID.
“Our health sector rose to the challenge of COVID, our Laboratory Staff in particular, and yet now Government seeks to impose a pay freeze in return.” says Dr Powell “Whilst expressing gratitude for the work they do, when it comes to valuing health workers in real terms, our government is failing to deliver”.
Dr. Deborah Powell
National Secretary, APEX
M: 021 614 040
P: (09) 526 0280