Friday, November 10, 2006


For the past eight months, radiographers at half the country's district health boards have been trying unsuccessfully to negotiate pay parity with radiographers in other DHBs. There have been several strikes on the way, but now negotiations have really broken down, and so the radiographers are walking off the job in much of the country for 10 days.

No-one will die because of this, as the radiographers are required to provide life-preserving services. However, the absence of X-rays and MRIs in non-life threatening cases will significantly disrupt surgery, and cause a significant amount of discomfort to many patients.

Normally, you expect businesses affected by strikes to try and get on with it as best they can, and assess the relative merits of further disruption versus going back to the bargaiing table. However, the response of the Canterbury District Health Board has been nothing short of draconian. Rather than negotiate with their workers, they are calling on the government to bar strikes in the health sector - effectively reducing their workers to slaves. I guess it beats paying them what they're worth - at least to the minds of some on the DHB.

Fortunately, District Health Boards are elected, and nominally accountable to their constituents. I'll be gathering information on who is responsible for this demand so they can be held accountable in local body elections next year. Anyone in Christchurch want to help?



come on.

Nurses (and I realise this is radiographers) for some time have been arguing that their conditions of employment (pay especially) should be similar to police. Now the health sector can have it. Well Police can't strike. Why should medical staff be able to? Are the Police slaves?

[I disagree with the proposal, but can see where it's coming from]

Posted by Graeme Edgeler : 11/10/2006 02:13:00 PM

The no strike comment is doltish but it does detract from what I see as a very weak union arguement. "Pay-parity" is a bogus clarion cry with which I have very little sympathy.

There are so many issues to do with being able to attract staff to different regions and then the cost of living in those regions that employers need to be flexible in how they operate. If an independent DHB is unable to make an offer to fill a shortage for fear that the *entire friggin country* will then follow we will end up with no-one getting the money they need or deserve.

By all means negotiate and strike for a stonking great pay-rise if that is what you think you deserve. The parity issue is so 70s and in my view, very political and not in the long term interests of employees.

Posted by Anonymous : 11/10/2006 02:29:00 PM

Graeme, Graeme, can't you see it now? Should they lose the ability to strike it's the lash and the x-ray galley for them. The evil DHB overlords will chain the poor suffering slaves to their MRIs and CT-scanners and all hope of freedom shall be lost.

Should two forlorn radiographers find solace in each other's arms and a little babe be born it shall be torn from its mother's arms and sent to the mines to complete a radiographer degree.


On a serious note, Idiot please don't be silly with your hyperbole because it is offensive for people (usually women and children) who are actual slaves. You can do better.

Posted by Muerk : 11/10/2006 05:08:00 PM

> No-one will die because of this

I would say it would be pretty likely there would be some 'excess deaths' even though there might not be any direct ones since they are a key part in a long chain of medical services.

Regarding their pay I guess if you pay what they are worth (i.e. if they used their full strike power) they are worth an almost infinite amount (unlike a McDonald’s worker, a maid or a laborer, you DIE if they don't help you). If you pay them what it takes to get a reasonable amount of them (the supply demand method) I presume they get paid about what they get paid now (maybe a little more).
If you pay them in terms of risk/hard work they would presumably get paid much less than police officers and possibly a bit less than McDonald’s workers but maybe more than maids.

Posted by Genius : 11/10/2006 07:22:00 PM

"you DIE if they don't help you" ... sure you're not confusing radiographers with radiotherapists? People survived broken bones long before there were x-rays.

Posted by Graeme Edgeler : 11/10/2006 10:22:00 PM

God, what is it with you people? Of course, it's natural to compare what you earn to others doing the same job. How else are you supposed to work out if you're being short changed? "Bogus clarion cry" indeed. Talk about hyperbole.
And of course Graeme, the police are in a totally different category; an arm of the State, the same as the army, so that is of no useful comparison to radiographers.
Radiographers, like everyone else, have only one ace to play: to withdraw their labour. It may no longer be fashionable to say so, but that makes it no less true.
Of course, thay will not be rendered slaves by anti-strike laws, but they could well be rendered criminals merely for wanting a fairer deal. Slaves have no choices, but such legislation would seriously reduce the choices of radiogrpahers.
Finally, why don't you expend equal energy wailing about the people who do die every other day while on waiting lists when this govt has bulging coffers, instead of putting the boot into workers?

Posted by Anonymous : 11/10/2006 10:26:00 PM

There are two sides to every dispute and in the case of the DHB v Radiographers and impasse seems to have been reached.

Why do I get the feeling that the Christchurch DHB is the one that is the problem. They seem to me to be a DHB that is constantly in the news and not in a positive way.

They seem to have lost the ability to handle problems ,is it the board or is the management?

Posted by Anonymous : 11/10/2006 10:52:00 PM

No graeme I dont mean direct deaths I mean "excess deaths" for example let's say you need an X ray to help with diagnosis and that diagnosis occurst a few weeks later. now in a few cases (and you may not be able to tell which ones) that delay is critical.

Now if all the macdonalds staff quit there would be 0 excess deaths and quite possibly a few excess lifes. if all the radiographers quit you would have all sorts of operations called off and unless those operations were pointless some would die. Admittedly radiographers probably aren't as important as doctors. so they might get paid a little less. And I guess you have to put price on a life. so whatever the amount of lives they save times 2 million plus any benefits to standard of living for people, would be a 'fair' starting point for negotiations by that standard.

If you needed an xray to help a doctor save your life how much would you be willing to pay to get it done?

Posted by Genius : 11/11/2006 03:27:00 AM

well, at some point the striking profession can affect society disproportionately to their actual job. classic case: the watersiders.

The Radiographers affect alot that is outside of their immediate job scope, so I actually see some merit to at least exploring the idea that they shouldn't be allowed to disrupt so many other parts of the health system.

Posted by Anonymous : 11/11/2006 07:26:00 AM

OK I admit I was over stating the case "you MIGHT die (or 'some people will fail to be cured') if they don't do their work."

Posted by Genius : 11/11/2006 07:30:00 AM