Nurses vote to strike on Thursday

Nurses have voted to go ahead with a strike on Thursday, seeking more pay than the current offer that probably looks quite generous to most people.

RNZ:  Hospitals prepare for nurses strike

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) rejected the latest district health board pay offer yesterday, saying more money was needed to avert the strike.

The Employment Relations Authority has ordered them back into talks which are due to continue today.

As negotiations have unfolded, so too have plans for life-preserving services during the 24-hour industrial action, scheduled to start at 7am tomorrow.

This means a lot of disruption, especially for people scheduled for operations, treatments and outpatient appointments. It will take a lot of organising by hospitals to cope.

Wellington’s Capital and Coast DHB’s chief medical officer John Tait estimated 6000-8000 elective procedures nationwide will need to be deferred.

It would pose major challenges for the country’s 20 DHBs but medical directors have insisted they’re as prepared as they can be, he said.

Sue Hayward, chief nursing and midwifery officer at Waikato District Health Board, said an agreed number of nurses would working during the strike – a measure taken with the support of the NZNO.

They can’t just clear out all the hospitals so some care is still required.

Director of child health at Starship, Dr Mike Shepherd, said Auckland District Health Board was as well prepared as it could be.

“We’ve been contingency planning now for a couple of weeks because of the need to reduce the number of patients in the hospital and to make sure we’re able to provide safe services over the strike period.

Dr Vanessa Thornton, chief medical officer at Counties Manakau DHB, said acute services would be prioritised during the strike.

“Obviously the elective side of the services will be cancelled because we won’t be able to provide that service. Winter is a busy time for us and so we have prepared our life-preserving services around our current occupancy and acuity.”

Bay of Plenty DHB chief medical officer Hugh Lees said they had a reasonable idea of the number of emergency patients they would normally get, though couldn’t be certain.

ODT:  Nurses’ strike affects 450 patients

The Southern District Health Board has started contacting hundreds of patients to cancel and reschedule appointments booked for tomorrow, after nurses voted to strike.

Up to 75% of the frontline health workforce will be missing from work tomorrow, when members of the New Zealand Nurses Organisation go on strike.

About 450 patients at Dunedin and Southland hospitals will be affected by the strike.

Industrial action scheduled for last Thursday by about 30,000 NZNO members was averted by a last-minute revision of the DHBs’ pay offer, a change the NZNO recommended members accept.

However, members rejected it, meaning tomorrow’s strike remains on.

”The vote was closer this time … but we have a simple majority rule and that simple majority was met,” NZNO industrial services manager Cee Payne said.

”We would have to consider balloting further [on strike action] if there was no shift at all in terms of the current impasse.”

Additional government funding to address NZNO members’ concerns about pay rates, pay equity and staffing issues would be needed to head off the strike, Ms Payne said.

A lot of disruption and cost. Probably not a lot of sympathy for nurses who already look like getting fairly sizeable pay increases.

Stuff: Acting PM Winston Peters ‘very disappointed’ by nurses strike decision

Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters says the Government is “very disappointed” by the decision by the Nurses’ Union to strike.

“The Government’s offer would herald the highest pay increase by far for nurses in 14 long years,” said Peters.

He said the Government still believed there was time to avoid the strike.

I guess the strike could still be averted but that’s looking unlikely if a vote was needed to change the decision.

Paying for news?

The massive move of media online, and the creaming of profits by international giants like Google and Facebook, have had a huge impact on traditional news gathering and distribution.

Good journalism costs money. It used to be subsidised by general advertising. That model has been demolished.

There is a resistance to pay for news online, in part because there are so many free alternatives – there is no compulsion to pay.

If the Herald or Dominion Post disappeared would most people on Facebook even notice?

Possibly not, but it would be to the detriment of the country, unless alternatives filled the news gap.

Should we pay for our news?

I don’t subscribe to any news service. I gave up my ODT subscription a couple of years ago. I gave up my Sky subscription last year.

I found that I was hardly reading the newspaper (ODT) so it wasn’t worth spending around $26 a month for. I got most of my news from a wide variety of sources online.

And I resented Sky forcing me to pay about $1000 per year when I only wanted a tenth of what they provided.

I haven’t subscribed anywhere else because it is too expensive. A single subscription might be good value if that’s where I sourced most news from, but I regularly read 20 news sources and forums, actually probably more than that. Full subscriptions for them all would be ridiculously expensive.

I would be prepared to pay for news if my money could be spread over multiple suppliers, and it wasn’t too expensive.

I think the biggest problem with traditional media is that they think they can apply their old model of one subscription to a vastly different, very fragmented media world. That’s where they are failing.

I don’t have an easy answer, but if news is to be paid for then a different way of doing things is required.

I never used to read the Herald or Dominion. Now Stuff and NZH online might provide me with about 10% of my news and information, so I’m not going to pay full traditional level subscriptions to both of them, and to a bunch of other providers.

They don’t seem to understand this.

Traditional news companies are too focussed on trying not to lose current subscribers paying full price, but they are gradually losing them and advertisers anyway. And they are not attracting business from part time readers and viewers.

It would be difficult, but a country as small as New Zealand could get radical and set up a universal system of micro payments for pay per view.

I don’t know if that could work.

But I know full subscriptions for fractional use, more obtrusive advertising (I usually just close pages that are too annoying and go somewhere else) and too much trash are failing and will always fail.

If news is too expensive or too hard to view I won’t go there.

If Fairfax and NZME had merged and set up a news pay wall demanding a full subscription I simply wouldn’t have used them.

I don’t actually need news. I can go on holiday and miss a week or two of news and survive quite easily. I can dump Sky and survive quite easily.

It’s actually good to not have to choose between a barrage of crap just to get a small amount of content I actually want.

If media companies want to survive and thrive that need to stop thinking through their traditional subscription lens and understand how us the readers and viewers see things.

The NZME/Fairfax merger didn’t appear to address this at all. They seemed to think if they were big enough they could demand full sized subscriptions, but they would still only be a fraction of what is available.

Available media has become very fragmented. Fragmented payments are probably the only way of getting people to pay what it is worth to them.

NZME and Fairfax merged would have been large, but would still have provided just a fraction of New Zealand’s news.

I would be happy to pay for good news and for good journalism, but not on traditional terms. I would want to spread it across multiple providers.


Trump versus Mexico on paying for the wall

A bizarre bunch of tweets from an apparently authentic Twitter account of an ex-president of Mexico, and the president-elect of the United States.

Labour: poor performance warrants halving salaries

Bad and good reasons for a salary reconsideration.

A Labour MP thinks that poor performance warrants cutting salaries in half. NZ Herald reports:

“The events of the last week have shaken the farming sector’s confidence in Fonterra, and the chief executive must take responsibility,” Labour’s Primary Industries spokesperson Damien O’Connor said in a statement.

“Theo Spierings should lead by example and voluntarily reduce his pay by half,” he said.

The events of the last seven years have shaken the political sector’s confidence in Labour.

Should O’Connor take responsibility and voluntarily reduce his pay by half? And Andrew Little and the rest of the Labour MPs?

Fonterra’s problems are largely due to global milk prices, which are affected by global demand for milk and global production of milk. Spierings is nowhere near fully responsible for milk throughout the world.

Labour MPs are a primary cause of Labour’s problems.

Another primary cause is a lack of party finances. Perhaps O’Connor will give half his salary to the party. Then he could ask his colleagues to follow his example.

UPDATE: Chris Trotter has already thought of something similar:

Well, here’s an idea (hat-tip to Danyl McLauchlan). Why not make it a rule that a MP cannot take home more than the average wage of, roughly, $55,000 per year. The balance of their income, $95,000, would go to the party. This would guarantee an annual income, from its current 32-strong caucus, of at least $3,040,000 per year, or, $9,120,000 over the three year parliamentary term.

UPDATE2: Matt Long comments on this at Kiwiblog:

Apart from world dairy prices falling Fonterra “forgot” to apply for access to the US market, alienated their shareholders, created a massive needless food scare and is seriously annoying staff with bureaucratic nonsense. We used to be very proud of the NZ Dairy Board, does anyone feel like that about Fonterra? Theo needs to step up or move on.

If that is at all accurate there’s valid reasons why Spierings’ salary and position could be questioned.