Socialist Equality Group (New Zealand) holds online health workers’ meeting
17 July 2018
The Socialist Equality Group (New Zealand), which is fighting to build a section of the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI), held an online forum last Saturday to discuss the ongoing health workers’ dispute. The event followed the first nationwide strike in 30 years by nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants in public hospitals, on July 12.
The strike involved almost 30,000 workers, a majority of whom voted to reject a sellout pay deal recommended by the New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO), which maintained low pay and dangerously low levels of staffing. NZNO is now negotiating behind closed doors with the District Health Boards (DHBs) and the Labour Party-led government, which has insisted the offer will not be increased.
The SEG forum was a critical discussion on the lessons of the dispute and the way forward. Participants included New Zealand and Australian health workers, members of the SEG and the Socialist Equality Party (Australia), as well as students and other workers.
Leading SEG member Tom Peters reviewed the widespread support for the strike, including from teachers, public servants and patients, and health workers throughout the world. “This is not only a New Zealand struggle,” he emphasised. “Nurses and health workers here have to understand that they are part of a developing global movement against austerity that has been imposed on the working class of every country.”
Peters responded to claims by Health Minister David Clark that the government cannot spend more on healthcare because it must set aside money in case of a national disaster. “As nurses have pointed out, the…