Maintaining the momentum
Our two strikes in the Public Health System in February and March have made the NSW Government take notice.
The NSW Government has started to shift beyond its previous intransigent position in its talks with the Association over award conditions in the public health system.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard and Minister for Finance and Industrial Relations Damien Tudehope, have agreed that there will be further discussions with the NSWNMA about “staffing and pay”.
Michael Whaites, NSWNMA Director, Strategy and Transformation, says this shows some movement from the government in response to our actions.
“In previous years, the Ministry of Health has rejected our claims for safer staffing without any negotiations, but our two strikes have clearly forced the NSW Government to reconsider its position,” he said.
Michael said the NSWNMA has continued to strongly push its ratios claim and has sought details about the NSW Government’s plan to fix the nursing and midwifery crisis.
“They have been reluctant to talk about actual numbers but they say they are responding to what they call ‘our very informative discussions on staffing’. But there is still no recognition from them about the need for shift-by-shift ratios,” he said.
“While talks continue, we still need to maintain pressure and build support at workplaces for what comes next.”
NSWNMA members working in rural MPS facilities have also met with the newly appointed Regional Health Minister, Bronnie Taylor, who promised them she would focus her attention on workforce issues.
The government said there will be announcements about pay and staffing in the state budget on 21 June.
Michael said the NSWNMA is well advanced in planning the next steps in the campaign.
“We held a highly successful training day on 16 May for member leaders in the public health system. It was clear on the day that there is still a lot of anger about the crisis in our public health system and the lack of action by the government to fix the problems.
“There is a high level of engagement from our member leaders and a strong commitment to make our ratios campaign successful. There is a determination to keep taking action until we win.”
We need to convince politicians about ratios
NSWNMA General Secretary Brett Holmes said implementing shift-by-shift ratios in NSW is ultimately a decision for politicians and together with the NSW Government, we need to convince more politicians over the importance of ratios.
“Both the NSW Government and NSW Labor need to understand the cost of not investing in the nursing and midwifery workforce will be felt by local communities for decades,” he said.
“There are politicians who have listened and are supportive of our claim but we need to take more action to convince all MPs – regardless of which political party they belong to – of the importance of ratios in solving the staffing crisis in our public health facilities.”
Get ready: What you can do next
The upcoming state budget on 21 June will give us a clearer indication of the NSW Government’s plan for the public health system. In the meantime, the voices of nurses and midwives can make a big difference. You can do this by:
- making an appointment to see your state MP; tell them what your working day is like, how shift-by-shift ratios will help, and ask for their support
- getting in touch with other nurses and midwives and letting them know we need help to build the next statewide action
- considering whether your branch should hold an own-time action about a local issue between now and the state budget on 21 June
- preparing now for a large meeting on Tuesday, 28 June at 2pm at Sydney Town Hall and online to decide our response to the state budget announcements.