November Update

Kia ora tātou kātoa

Thanks for taking the time to read our monthly update, although we are heading towards the end of the year – the work the STONZ team is doing is not slowing down.

What have we been up to this month?

As we all know the current workforce challenges are forefront of our minds with many specialties experiencing large vacancies both short-notice due to sickness and burnout, and permanent vacancies where districts have been unable to recruit new RMOs. It seems this summer we are going to be hard hit, with large shortfalls in the coming quarter 1, more so in some areas. STONZ has been working locally with some of the worst affected specialties, including RMOs, Departments and CMOs to see what can be done in the short-term. We have also been advocating actively for more medium to long term solutions to the pipeline so that in future these short-term solutions are not so heavily relied on. STONZ has also been meeting weekly, alongside other health unions and Te Whatu Ora to discuss cross cover after-hours and the impact and application of the escalated additional duty rates which are now confirmed to carry through to 2023. We see the opportunity for significant change to be made is in the mid to long-term solutions, and the STONZ Executive team are currently working on a discussion document that attempts to outline all the challenges throughout the current pipeline and training framework from a RMO perspective. STONZ is now also one of two Council of trade unions (CTU) representatives to sit on the National Workforce Taskforce group and we are excited to now be contributing to this group.

Kate, our STONZ Executive Director also attended the Workforce Dialogue Summit held in Wellington earlier this month, which was hosted by the Minister of Health, Andrew Little and Manatū Hauora (Ministry of Health). The event was attended by almost 200 healthcare workers from both public, private, clinical, non-clinical, unions, colleges and regulators and was an opportunity to share ideas and collaborate on what we believe the biggest challenges are, and where there are opportunities to do better. The feedback generated from the various workshops is currently being collated by Manatū Hauora, and we hope it will help to influence policy, strategy and the initiatives being developed around the current workforce challenges.

Christina, STONZ President was invited to attend and present at the women in Vision conference held north of Auckland earlier this month which was a great event, and we were very happy to be able to attend and support in a small way. This year the theme was “break the bias” with a focus on leadership and wellness and while the conference focused on women in ophthalmology, everyone was welcome to attend and culminated in an excellent and collaborative weekend.

Following from our October update, we are still progressing conversations about how we might be able to apply a public sector pay adjustment to the STONZ collective. As members of the CTU, STONZ has been involved with advocating and negotiating with the government for several months now and have now been made an offer which we have ‘opted in’ to negotiate further; we are meeting with Te Whatu Ora again in early December and we hope to be able to provide more clarity about what this might look like to you very soon. If successful, this would result in a remuneration increase for many of our members alongside the changes as part of our mid-term negotiations but may impact the current length ’term’ of our current collective agreement so discussion and negotiation is required. We will continue to keep members updated throughout the process, and if we are successful this would have to follow the normal negotiation parameters including putting any changes to members for a vote.

As you may remember, we held a Special General Meeting, in October where there were changes made to our Constitution – we have now made those updates and we have added these to the Resource section of our membership database, so when you login you will have access to these. We are also in the process of updating our membership policy, so this will also be uploaded to the database within the next week. As STONZ has grown, we have needed to update our policy to make sure it best reflects what we are here to do as an organisation, and what you can expect as a member in terms of help and assistance. If you have any questions about any of these, don’t hesitate to get in touch with any member of our team.

We are also pleased to advise that we have now appointed a provider to lead our Remuneration project and will be working with both STONZ and Te Whatu Ora to look at our current pay structures, how we’re paid and their goal is to see if they can come up with a model that better reflects how RMOs work now, and a model that better reflects the number of hours and unsocial hours that many of our members work. We expect this project to take at least 6-months and we’ll keep you updated as it progresses.

And just a couple of quick administration notes to end with:

  1. We have been advised that some districts are currently behind the 4-week time period for processing reimbursements due to staff sickness and vacancies. They are working to recruit new resource, but if you have any claims over the 4-week mark that have not been paid, please get in touch with our support team so they can escalate and try and get this prioritised for you.
  2. As you know STONZ is a non-for-profit, and we rely on our membership fees for the running of the organisation. If you receive an invoice from our support team, if you could please make payment as soon as you are able that would be much appreciated and saves the team having to follow up.

It’s been another big month, so thank you for all your support and mahi once again – and we’ll touch base again next month to ensure you get a full wrap up before the end of the year!

As always, please get in touch with us if you have any feedback, or any issues that you need support to deal with, we are always happy to help, and very much have the future in mind.

Ngā mihi mahana,

Jordan Tewhaiti-Smith, Vice-President


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