NATIONAL 25 January 2019
Dear Member,

Welcome to the 2nd issue for 2019 of ASMS Direct, our national electronic publication. It outlines the latest developments in the Resident Medical Officers industrial dispute.

You can also keep in touch with the latest news and views on health issues relevant to public hospital specialists via our website www.asms.nz, which contains links (at the top of the home page) to our Facebook and LinkedIn pages, as well as our quarterly magazine The Specialist. We’re also on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ASMSNZ.

1. MEDICAL COUNCIL LETTER CONCERNING THE RESIDENT DOCTORS’ ASSOCIATION AND DISTRICT HEALTH BOARDS INDUSTRIAL ACTION

ASMS welcomes the intervention of Medical Council Chair Andrew Connolly, who has written to both parties – the Resident Doctors’ Association (RDA) and the 20 DHBs - urging them to work constructively on the issue of safe staffing in an environment that allows the union to avoid strike action. The letter says while the Council does not normally see industrial disputes as being in its mandate, it is concerned the ongoing action may affect public health and safety. Mr Connolly has offered to meet with the parties to help resolve the issue.

It is an important letter which I encourage members to read here: https://www.asms.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Letter-from-MCNZ-re-strike.pdf

ASMS commends the Medical Council’s initiative which provides a circuit breaker to an industrial dispute which is continuing to escalate like a runaway train. RDA has responded positively to it but unfortunately the DHBs have rejected it. The DHBs rejection is very disappointing and unwise.

2. ASMS OPINION EDITORIAL ON INDUSTRIAL DISPUTE BETWEEN RDA AND DHBS

Last week the Dominion Post and Stuff website published my opinion editorial outlining the ASMS view of the dispute. It emphasised the importance of removing the safer hours issue from the adversarial bargaining process and criticised the DHBs for not responding to our invitation to work with them and the RDA to attempt to resolve the concerns over unintended consequences in a more constructive process away from the adversarial negotiating table. It can be read here: https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/109936431/blame-dhbs-not-the-unions-for-the-junior-doctors-strike

3. SECOND RMO STRIKE

The second 48-hour strike is scheduled for January 28 and 29. Feedback after the January 15-16 strike indicates that some members felt pressured by senior managers, on behalf of their chief executive, to continue with electives during the strikes against their clinical judgement. Any member in this position should seek advice from their local ASMS Industrial Officer. There is a delicate relationship between the need to provide life preserving services and actions intended to break the strike; the latter can create an environment unconducive to the former and risks the counter-effect of prolonging hostilities thereby prolonging strike action. 

Our first national ASMS Direct of 2019 gave advice ahead of the first strike, and can be read here. It contains a link to the national agreement on rates of remuneration for SMOs who need to undertake additional work during the strikes. Again, members who require further advice should contact their local ASMS industrial office.

4. RDA INITIATES LAST DITCH MEDIATION

A last-chance mediation session between the RDA and DHBs has unfortunately collapsed, and it appears all but certain next week’s strike will go ahead. The RDA had, for a second time, initiated mediation with the DHBs who as the employers were required to attend. The mediation had been scheduled for yesterday and today, but late yesterday it emerged the talks had fallen over. It was facilitated by Mediation Services, based in the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment.

Given the bitter nature of the dispute and the determination of the DHBs to bring the RDA to its knees, it was always unlikely to resolve the impasse. But, in mediation, the RDA made a significant proposal for settlement that in a less volatile atmosphere might have got traction to the extent that the strike next week would have been called off. However, it was rejected by the DHBs. I hope to report more fully on this to members later.

5. ASMS RESPONSE TO HEALTH MINISTER’S WARNING TO DHBS OVER THEIR FINANCIAL PERFORMANCE

The New Zealand Herald published a story about Health Minister David Clark’s warning to DHBs over their financial performance. The ASMS issued a media release in response urging the Government to take responsibility for the situation. The media release can be read here: https://www.asms.org.nz/news/asms-news/2019/01/22/solution-to-district-health-board-financial-deficits-rests-with-the-government/

6. NZMA RECOMMENDED ACTIONS TO MITIGATE CLIMATE CHANGE

The New Zealand Medical Association has issued a new statement recommending seven actions to mitigate climate change. Both ASMS and the NZ Nurses Organisation have endorsed the statement. The NZMA media release on the seven actions can be read here: https://www.asms.org.nz/news/other-news/2019/01/24/nzmas-seven-actions-to-mitigate-health-and-climate-change/

7. DID YOU KNOW ... PUBLIC HOLIDAYS, WAITANGI DAY AND ANNIVERSARY DAY

This year Waitangi Day falls on a Wednesday and Auckland Anniversary Day will be observed on Monday, January 28.

If you work on “any part of” Waitangi Day (000h – 2400h) or anniversary day, including being on-call, you are entitled to your usual pay for the day worked, plus an additional 50% of your “relevant daily rate” for every hour actually worked during outine hours on the public holiday. 

You are entitled to the day-in-lieu on full pay at a later date. If you are a shift worker, eg, in ICU or ED, and you are rostered off on a public holiday, you are entitled to a day-in-lieu on full pay on another mutually convenient day.

 

Kind regards

Ian Powell
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR