Technologists in charge of computed tomography and other scanners in hospitals are exasperated at being paid $10,000 less than clerical workers in hospitals.
A technologist has a degree — and the debt that goes with it — but starts at $57,000, compared to the newly increased starting salary of $67,000 for a radiology reservations clerk.
They were left in the wake after clerical staff and hospital administrators secured raises of up to 40 per cent as part of a pay equity deal in June.
“It’s crazy,” a medical imaging technologist (MIT) told RNZ.
“We provide 24/7 radiology coverage, but our admin team wraps up their shifts at 5:30 p.m., leaving a limited MIT group to work what may be the busiest shift while doing all of our administrative work.”
This included making phone calls, sending images to other hospitals, and responding to doctors’ questions and queries.
It will probably take several months before the technologists get their own pay equity agreement.
Meanwhile, the pay gap was exacerbating healthcare worker shortages, said the technologists, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“It’s a kick in the teeth for new graduates to come in and be paid less than someone who doesn’t even have a degree,” said a second.
“My guys work weekends, nights, take care of drunks and disorderly people, for $10,000 less.
“I think it’s awful.”
They could soon get partial relief through a separate regular compensation offer that, if they accept it, would increase each pay bracket by $5,700 — with increases backdated by several months.
However, government public sector wage cuts had curbed that, said national secretary of the Apex (Association of Professional and Executive Employees) union, Dr Deborah Powell.
“We struggled to secure a reasonable offer for MIT to reflect the recruiting and retention issues they are having because Te Whatu Ora is being held back by salary restrictions,” Powell said.
A pay equity settlement for hospital administration and clerical staff was reached in June with the now defunct district health boards.
It allowed salary increases of up to 40%.
The agreement “brought tears to my eyes,” said a union representative from the Public Service Association (PSA).
But it took three years to get the deal done — and 28 other types of jobs held mostly by women and underpaid for decades, including MITs (and nurses who went to court), still make the cut. line up for pay equity.
Apex and the PSA aim by next April to develop an equity formula for medical imaging technologists.
But that still leaves weeks if not months of negotiation with Health New Zealand over the salary itself.
Technologists told RNZ that discontent has grown since the rift with administrative staff opened up.
“Just to be clear, I’m not complaining about my salary, I appreciate the position I’m in because of it,” one said.
“It’s the conditions between the two roles that I see as the problem.
“The only way to make more money is to take on more responsibility – if a position opens up, or to do more shift work to get the extra pay that those shifts bring.
“Honestly, late shifts and night shifts are really hard work, let alone working one out of every four weekends.
“Maybe I’ll get a job as an administrator and enjoy a good sleep schedule!”
PSA organizer Will Matthews said pay equity could have been achieved earlier, alongside the administrative agreement, but the government failed to devote the resources to it.
“MIT had to watch some of their colleagues get paid more for months and months.
“We want them to know that in the long run, when their claim is settled…these members won’t suffer, the results will be similar,” he said.
“We share their frustrations.”
For public hospital technologists, a salary cap was reduced after about five years, to about $81,000 – and later, an additional step to $86,000. The new $5,700 offer would add to those rates.
The MRI specialization paid more “but, again, you hit a five-year salary cap,” the second said.
“So, are they catching up with the administrators? »
The third said they have been near the high end, $75,000, for a few years now.
“It’s not going to attract people to the profession.”
The other chasm is between public and private radiology.
“I would love to get pay parity…with private sector MITs, but that’s not going to happen,” said a technologist who, having been in a management position for many years, said he was getting 10 $000 less than a private technician. who is not even a leader in a field.
Powell said public radiology, which required about 250 MITs in total, was understaffed by about 40%.
“We are seeing an exit from the civil service,” she said.
“It’s not just that they have better pay, they have less tiring hours.
“The private sector doesn’t work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You know, there are no night shifts in the private sector.”
Apex also represents private sector technologists.
One of the greatest temptations to leave the public sector and enter the private sector has been repeatedly told by radiologists and technologists to RNZ.
“It’s too much work and unsuitable facilities and bad management decisions,” said a radiologist at a regional hospital.
“Custody notice here means 10 hours straight. »
Powell said Health NZ still only had an interim lead role dealing with workforce issues, almost five months into his role, and still several months since work on the change began.
“We had a transitional authority working between the announcement and July 1…I haven’t seen anything yet of what they’ve actually done.
“I failed to get answers on why the transitional authority has not made more progress.”