Labour is under pressure to increase its self-imposed debt limit to address wage claims and social spending requests.
That pressure proves former Finance Minister Steven Joyce was right when he said Labour’s pre-election budget had several billion dollar holes in it.
Those holes were where the money for pay increases for health professionals, teachers, police and other public servants should have been.
The pay offer to nurses sounds generous, but as they keep saying they don’t just want more pay, they want better conditions.
. . . Some nurses have talked about being rostered on for three days a week, but working on average 80-86 hours a fortnight.
Being called back in on days off is a regular occurrence, and rosters often have blank spaces left while managers look for nurses to fill the gaps.
The most recent pay offer brought forward $38 million of new funding to provide immediate relief for staffing and workload issues, but was seemingly viewed as being too little, too late.
The strike vote shows the depths of anger in the rank-and-file – if it was underestimated beforehand, it cannot be now.
Striking nurses have two demands – to be paid more, and to be valued. . .
Teachers who are poised to strike too are also wanting not just more pay but better support.
. . .They are negotiating on teacher and principal pay, but also on workload and things like special education needs co-ordinators.
“There’s a real depth of feeling out there. The whole issue around workload is very, very significant and that’s come through very, very strongly.” . .
While the public isn’t enamoured of strikes, nurses and teachers do have widespread sympathy and have valid questions about why there’s no more money for them.
Labour set its debt target to show that it could be fiscally responsible but the government it leads has already failed at that.
Billions have been wasted on fripperies leaving holes where funds for better pay and conditions for nurses and teachers should be.
And every time they say there’s no more money, they’ll be asked: how can there be enough for fee-free tertiary education and the regional slush fund but not enough for health and education professionals?
Just like Labour of old and previous governments it’s led, this one is making a fuss about how much they spend with little or no attention to how well they’re spending.
It’s quantity over quality, what they spend not what it achieves, and with every mis-spent cent they’re proving the former Finance Minister right.