WELLINGTON (Reuters) – After compensation discussions failed, over 5,000 senior physicians and dentists in New Zealand will go on strike for the first time on September 5, according to the union representing the medical personnel.

The Association of Salaried Medical Specialists’ chief executive, Sarah Dalton, said in a statement that the organization is seeking a salary raise to keep up with inflation and that members chose to strike after pay discussions failed.

“Te Whatu Ora (New Zealand Health Authority) will not even pay senior doctors and dentists the bare minimum to ensure their staff do not take a real-terms pay cut for the third year in a row,” said Dalton.

Te Whatu Ora Chief People Officer Andrew Slater stated that a fair compensation offer was made and that they are sad that it was not taken.

“Contingency planning is underway to ensure safe and appropriate patient care in the event that action is taken,” it stated.

The strikes come less than two months before an expected tight government election on October 14.

Since Chris Hipkins became Prime Minister in January, the Labour Party has stated that it will focused on growing prices and assisting New Zealanders in managing them.

A number of public sector workers, including nurses and teachers, have recently resolved compensation discussions after government agencies improved their offers, and the government has also increased salaries for defense force personnel.

At his weekly news conference, Hipkins stated that he did not want to see any medical professionals go on strike and that the government will work in good faith to resolve the matter.

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