Nurses fight for their rights

Sarah Anderson works as a nurse. She submitted this to the New Zealand Herald a fortnight ago, before nurses voted down the DHBs’ latest inadequate offer. The ISO is happy to publish this guest post, and stands in full solidarity with the nurses and their demands.

Negotiations between the New Zealand Nurses Organisation and District Health Boards over the Multi Employer Collective Agreement have stirred many nurses to speak up and reveal the bare, unmasked truth of the nursing profession.

An outcry is being made over low wages, staffing shortages, discrimination and bullying in the workplace. Nurses have remained silent for too long and are now beginning to find their strength.

Stories of burnout and frustration mark a Facebook page created by two unnamed nurses who took time to give nurses a space to share. The public page, titled ‘New Zealand, please hear our voice’ now has over 38,000 followers. Echoes of verbal and sometimes physical abuse seeps pervasively into many posts. Other nurses fantasise of a world where they might even be able to take a meal break. Many relate tales of patients who suffered unnecessarily due to unsafe staffing levels. There are also heart-warming moments found here, that credit those who give their all because they see hope and thankfulness in the eyes of those they care for.

It is no new story to nurses, it is no new story to management, and it is no new story to the government. While their frustration remains directed at government funding in the wrong places and pockets, the stories are told to the public. In a battle that has lasted for decades, nurses need support.

One thing remains certain above all else: this is not sustainable. With responsibilities mounting year after year, nurses dropping out from the workforce, constant budget cuts and ever increasing inflation, the future of nursing remains uncertain at best.

The bedside whispers made by nurses are transforming into a mighty roar – and they are hoping to finally be heard.