Nurses from the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) St Vincent’s Private Hospital branch have taken their fight to the streets, making their voices heard at a community rally in Lismore.
Around fifty nurses chanted and rallied in their own time at the Lismore Transit Centre, with community members turning out to show their support. Nurses came together to vent their frustration and disappointment over management’s decision to withdraw a pay offer at the 11th hour.
NSWNMA St Vincent’s Private Hospital Lismore branch members chanted: “Covid, floods we’ve had our share. Pay us what we know is fair.” And “Nurses show up day and night, pay us what we know is right.”
Nurses had been offered a 4 per cent increase for 2023 and 2.53% backdated to October 2022. However, that has since been rescinded, with management now putting forward a substantially lower 2.3% offer, backdated to the first full pay period on or after 1 July 2023.
Branch Secretary and Clinical Nurse Specialist, Janelle Hospers, said nurses at the hospital were dismayed over the decision by new CEO, Alan Cooper, to take management’s initial offer off the table.
“The previous CEO and the board had approved it, so it seems a bit ridiculous to withdraw what was promised,” Ms Hospers said.
“I think what has occurred was not professional at all. It has devastated a lot of nurses and staff.”
NSWNMA General Secretary, Shaye Candish, said the past three years had been gruelling for nurses and midwives in the Northern Rivers.
“What our members at St Vincent’s Private Hospital are asking for is not unreasonable. In fact, our hardworking nurses are very deserving of this wage increase, particularly when you consider the COVID pandemic and floods we’ve seen.” said Ms Candish.
“They show up every day and night to provide patients in Lismore and surrounds with high quality clinical care, but their pay is not reflective of this.”
The NSWNMA has written to the hospital’s board, requesting that it comes back to the bargaining table within seven days to reinstate the original offer.