Sunday, April 20, 2008


Junior doctors are going on strike next week in support of a pay claim which will hopefully reduce the medical workforce death spiral (in which low wages and poor working conditions push doctors into locuming, where they can be paid three times as much while having control over their lives; this in drives DHBs to work their existing staff harder and longer, setting up a nasty positive feedback loop). The pay claim is large - 10% a year for three years, which spread across the Resident Doctors Association's ~2500 members, works out to ~$25 million this year, ~$50 million next year, and ~$75 million every year after that (on the plus side, it would likely reduce the amount DHB's spend on locums, estimated at anywhere between $24 and $100 million a year). The DHBs don't want to back down, so they're paying senior doctors up to $500 an hour to scab - at an estimated cost of $12 million over the two day strike. So, $12 million of public money down the drain, just so managers can show they're hard. This is pure madness, and you don't have to be a genius to see that its not going to take too many such strikes before the cost of them outweighs the cost of settlement.

Meanwhile, Health Minister David Cunliffe is vowing not to back down to "unrealistic" demands. Because the last thing a Labour government will do is support striking workers...