What is a strike?

A strike or strike action is essentially a refusal to work which has been organised by a union in support of negotiations for a collective employment agreement. Strikes are legal acts and are protected by law.

How much notice does the union have to give before the strike starts?

We have to give at least 14 clear days notice.

What should I do if I am approached by an employer representative about striking?

For an employer representative to approach, email or attempt to engage in conversation a union member about strikes or any aspect of the collective bargaining, is illegal at law – termed bypassing and is deemed to not be acting in good faith (hence is an illegal act). If faced with this scenario, you should advise them that you do not wish to discuss the matter, refer them directly to us and let us know!

If I go on strike can I be sacked, de-registered, or discriminated against?

No. Strike action is a right you have as an employee under the law. You cannot be penalised in any manner for taking such action.

What does it mean if I am suspended?

You do not get paid when you are on strike because technically you are suspended. The suspension continues until the end of the strike. On resumption of work, your service must be treated as continuous and your pay will recommence.

But “be warned”; DHBs in the past have tried issuing legalistic looking (even threatening) suspension notices to employees going on strike. They don’t have to issue a suspension notice as the automatic effect of being suspended during a strike is provided for at law. They do it to try and upset employees – so if you get one of these, don’t panic, just email it through so we can take a look at it and advise you further as necessary.

Can I refuse to teach non-member or anyone else my job before a strike?

You cannot be required to undertake anything, but your normal duties nor can you be required to undermine your own strike. Refer any such requests to APEX.

What about the patients?

Great care is taken to ensure that patients are not put at risk during a strike; the law provides that it is the responsibility of the employer to provide for the patients. The employer is also required to contingency plan and reduce all non-urgent services – such as postponing elective surgeries, during the strike period. Non-members have to work, however if the employer believes assistance from APEX members is required to provide life or limb preserving services (also known as LPS) they can request such from us (but not an individual employee).

How do LPS (life and limb preserving services) work during a strike?

This is a legally prescribed process. As above, if your employer believes they need the assistance of RDA members to provide LPS then they can make a request of APEX (but not an individual employee). If cover by members under LPS is agreed, you WILL know if you are to work during the strike or not, because APEX will have informed you. If you get approached by your employer but have NOT heard from us, give us a call!

If I was rostered on call when the strike occurs will I be called back for LPS?

Not necessarily. This will depend on what has been arranged during the LPS process.

Will I get paid my already approved annual leave during a strike period?

Depending on payroll ability the likely answer is no but your leave will be credited back to you. Less capable payrolls often do not get around to stopping pay when people are on leave during a strike in which case your leave will not be credited back. Make sure you check your leave balances when you return to work: if you have not been paid the leave should be credited back to you.

What if I am away on a work conference or on study leave during a strike, will I still get paid? Yes. Study leave/conference leave/CME leave whatever you call it is considered work at law and if you are working then you will continue to be paid. Exam candidates on study leave please take note!

What happens if I am on rostered days off during the strike period?

You are in luck because you would not be getting paid for those days anyway.

How far can I travel away from town during the strike period?

As far as you like. However, if a strike is called off once it has started you have to return to work as soon as practicably reasonable.

Is it possible to be called back to work in the middle of a strike?

Yes, but this is unusual. If this does happen, only the advice of the union (over and above any media statement or other advice) to return to work should be heeded.

Can locums or casual employees strike?

All members of the APEX (including locums and casuals) who are covered by the collective are entitled to strike.

What if I do not want to strike?

No one wants to strike. Collective action is one option that employees may choose to undertake when seeking to gain collective benefit. Decisions on strike action are made collectively through the democratic process of voting. If we want the benefits of the collective, we must support it.

Note that the only employees who can lawfully strike are those who will be bound by the collective agreement being bargained for i.e. are members of APEX covered by the DHB MECA.

What is a lockout?

A lockout is an employer’s strike. It is done with a view to compelling employees to accept certain terms of employment or to comply with other demands made by your employer. Whilst there has been one lockout in Health, it did not last long and did not go well for the employers as you can probably imagine!

Is there a strike fund?

No. The best advice to give is to have a think about what might be needed (e.g. mortgage holiday) in advance and if necessary, put something aside now.

Can I do anything medical or something else to help patients generally during strike?

Yes of course. Here are some suggestions; catch up on some study, complete a paper or presentation, spend quality time with friends and family (quality of work life-balance improves performance at work), do some volunteer work for a charity or quite frankly get some rest!

Contact us

Do not hesitate to contact your local delegate or us here at the union office on ask@apex.org.nz or call us on (09) 526 0280.

Contact APEX