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May 6, 2019 | by  | in News Splash |
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Junior doctors’ fourth and largest strike this year


Junior doctors have just finished a five-day strike which lasted from Monday, 29 April to Saturday, 4 May and took place across New Zealand, excluding Christchurch.


This was the fourth and longest strike this year for the New Zealand Resident Doctors’ Association (RDA), which represents over 3000 junior and resident doctors.


To ensure that vital hospital services were not affected, junior doctors assigned to these departments did not participate in the strike. Neither did Christchurch doctors, as the hospital is still treating victims of the Al Noor and Linwood Mosque Shootings.


Mauri Ora and Te Taunaki services at VUW were not affected, as the staff are directly employed by the university, rather than a district health board (DHB).


The wave of strikes stem from NZ’s twenty DHBs failing to come to an agreement with the RDA over contract changes.


DHBs want to have full control over working arrangements for junior doctors in their regions: how many hours they work, what days they work, maximum consecutive working days, and the working conditions in hospitals. Currently, these are decided jointly by DHBs and the RDA.


The RDA views the proposal as a significant rollback of the rights of junior doctors.


In an interview with ^RNZ, Dr James Anderson, an RDA executive member, said, “the DHBs are insisting on taking away protections in our contract and taking away our rights to come to agreement about how we work, where we work and when we work.”


Dr Peter Bramley, spokesperson for the DHBs, said he was disappointed that the strike went ahead, given that the DHBs had been supportive of union requests for arbitration.


“We find it hard to understand why the strike is still going ahead when it’s been given a route to settlement.”


The RDA have affirmed their stance that the strike was “necessary” to maintain pressure on the DHBs before arbitration negotiations started.


David Munro, Senior Advocate for the RDA, told ^Salient that “the DHBs showed no willingness or enthusiasm” to sit down for talks, “and have used a variety of stalling tactics” in the negotiation process.


The two parties are scheduled to begin these negotiations this week.


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