Muswellbrook takes a stand
NSWNMA members from Hunter Valley hospitals including Muswellbrook, Scone and Singleton travelled to Newcastle for that city’s rally of over 1000 nurses.
Seventeen nurses from the 46-bed Muswellbrook District Hospital went to Newcastle on a bus organised by the NSWNMA.
Muswellbrook nurse Peggy Smith played a key role in organising the strike – her first involvement in union activity.
“The branch had been inactive for some time and a lot of people felt deflated and pessimistic,” she said. “It was pretty daunting to take on the challenge.”
“We set up a Facebook group for members and non-members who were interested in joining the union, which generated a lot of discussion and enthusiasm, and helped to organise the strike.
“Veteran nurses got their energy back and decided they needed to have another go at trying to improve conditions for ourselves and our patients.
“The strike got a lot of support and even our new grads took part. They recognised they had to stand up for their future careers – because who wants to be a nurse with a healthcare system that looks like this?
“People who couldn’t miss a day for financial reasons took other actions, like work bans, or only participating in patient care and essential documentation.”
“Some nurses who didn’t attend the rally did other things to help, like organising people to cover shifts and reaching out to the media.”
Peggy did radio interviews on local stations Power FM, 2NM and the ABC in the lead-up to the strike.
“I had never spoken to the media before and it was fairly daunting. One of the interviews was done live as we were getting on the bus, and my manager was phoning me as I was speaking.
“I thought she was listening to the radio and I’d said something wrong, but she just wanted us to hold the bus for the night-shift staff, who had decided to come with us. It’s fantastic to have that level of support from your management.”
Peggy spoke at the rally and was interviewed by NBN TV.
“The rally was great – there was lots and lots of energy. It has invigorated people and got them talking again, and we are reviving the branch and holding elections for office bearers.”