Contributed by Adam Carlton
Nurses went on strike across New South Wales yesterday, and thousands took part in marches across the state. The biggest crowd rallied outside the New South Wales parliament, and they vowed to “come back bigger and angrier each time we are ignored”.
The big turnout was despite a ruling by the Industrial Relations Commission against the strike.
Photo by Tim Swanston/ABC
To say that the nurses are angry is an understatement. They have been overworked with little regard for their health. Three issues stand out. The nurses want want a ratio of a nurse for every four patients, down from up to one nurse for every nine patients. The second is that they are underpaid for the long hours of gruelling work. The nurses want better than the 2.5 percent being offered by the government. The third is nurses want to be guaranteed that they are covered by workers compensation and looked after if they are infected by covid.
Thousands Of Nurses Walk off the job to strike
Video from 10 News First
The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) general secretary, Brett Holmes, accused the premier, Dominic Perrottet, of being out of touch “with the real world” and the reality of working though the Omicron wave in hospitals.
Union assistant general secretary Shaye Candish read out stories from nurses detailing extreme cases of understaffing and burnout.
“This government is under-resourcing the health system and it’s creating trauma for us,” she said.
“It’s time for the premier to listen. [Nurses] are saying that the system’s not coping and it’s not OK. We are not going away until our demands are met.
“We will come back bigger and angrier each time we are ignored.”
Nurses were joined by paramedics.
Paramedics Join Nurses and Midwives
Video from Storyful News & Weather
The problem has been ongoing corporatisation and privatisation of the health system by stealth, and one of the results has been overworked and underpaid nurses, which translates into tiredness and falling morale. This is a threat to the health of patients.
New South Wales has dealt with the pandemic poorly. The major reason has been a government locked onto guaranteeing the bottom line of business, above looking after the health of the population. A spinoff has been the exposure of the inadequacy of the state’s health system.
Nurses have the sympathy of the public. Everyone know how critical they have been during the pandemic. But to be used by politicians for photo shoots and publicly thanked, while being treated with disrespect, does not sit well with them.
New South Wales and Australia need a top rate health system., and this includes decent nursing jobs.