New Zealand nurses stage first nationwide strike in 30 years
13 July 2018
Nearly 30,000 nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants took part in a 24-hour strike yesterday across New Zealand—the first nationwide strike by public hospital workers since 1989.
Demonstrations and pickets were held throughout the country, with hundreds attending in Auckland and Wellington. More than 1,000 health workers and supporters joined a march in Christchurch. There were well-attended pickets in Dunedin, Hamilton, Napier, Nelson, New Plymouth, Timaru, Invercargill, Whangarei and many other towns.
The strike attracted widespread support from the working class, which has endured a decade of austerity measures enforced by the entire political establishment. Among those who joined the pickets were school teachers, who have voted to strike next month, as well as many hospital patients, including some whose medical procedures were postponed because of the strike.
The Public Service Association, the biggest union in the country, felt compelled to proclaim its support for nurses. Four thousand PSA members at the Inland Revenue Department and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment held a two-hour strike on Monday against low wages.
The strike attracted significant media attention and support from workers internationally. Messages of support and photos from Australian health workers were widely shared on Facebook. The New Zealand strike is part of a wave of anti-austerity struggles around the world, including mass teachers’ strikes in the United States, public sector walkouts in France and protests against cuts to the National Health Service in Britain.
According to media reports, thousands of non-urgent medical…