This is a question for NZ nurses. I am wondering what your thoughts are about the NZNO? Do you feel that they represent your best interests? Are they effective leaders? What changes have they made that you feel are beneficial? What would you like to see them do?
I have been in NZ for over five years. I have been consistently disappointed with working conditions here, pay rates and the failure to all parties to address safe staffing. Worldwide, one of the most important issues identified to improving working conditions and retention has been improved nurse-to-patient ratios. Another is a truly shared governance approach to nursing.
The last two contract negotiations I have been a part of here did not even start until well after the previous contract had expired. Both of them were also not settled for about nine months. I find that disturbing. I also have found that many nurses believe that the NZNO and the DHBs drag the process out as long as possible; this results in nurses voting yes for ratification, just to get something and the chunk of backpay they are owed.
During the last negotiation, safe staffing was identified. From the NZNO website:
NZNO members in all sectors say safe staffing is one of their most important issues. NZNO has made safe staffing the top campaign priority over the next two years. That’s why we’ve launched the Safe Staffing. Getting it right NOW! campaign
From what I know and have seen, the latest publication regarding this on the website is from 2006; furthermore, my ratios were 1:6 or 7 in an acute area (not a ward) and no acuity was taken into consideration when making patient assignments. Nothing has changed in those areas since.
I can not see that the NZ has done anything in the best interests of the individual nurse or the profession. It appears to exist merely to feed its own objectives. In a country of 4 million, how can nurse leaders and executives not have conflicts of interest when serving in temporary positions? Should they make too much noise, their future opportunities would be greatly limited.
My final observation is that is a great mistake for the NZNO to allow the DHB so much control over the PDRP. The amount of barriers placed in the path of a nurse can be unbelievable. Furthermore, NZ greatly relies on immigrant nurses and they are brought into the system on the lowest possible level and then find themselves functioning at levels far above that for which they are paid.
Most immigrant nurses I know feel that they are unfairly treated in the workplace: there is limited potential for advancement, open hositility and racism and obvious favoritism toward Kiwi and British nurses. Many charge nurses, managers and supervisors are hospital trained and hold a diplomma or certificate, are limited in their practice because of this, have less experience than many immigrants and choose those who will advance neptistically.
Finally, as an immigrant, I find this statement by the NZNO " re: Feedback on New Zealand’s Draft’s Human Rights Report" extremely disturbing:
We note several references to ‘multiculturalism’ and suggest that in some
cases this is used inappropriately. The Tiriti is an explicit statement of
biculturalism. New Zealand may be ethnically diverse and culturally
tolerant and inclusive, but it is committed socially and politically to a
bicultural partnership between the Tangata Whenua and the state.
That is, as the report acknowledges, what makes Aotearoa unique. The
primacy of the partnership is undermined and confused by subsequent
references to multiculturalism which implies cultural homogeneity. Indian
culture, for example is respected in New Zealand, but does not enjoy the
same primacy as Māori culture or ‘English’ culture.