Strike four: Perrottet feels the rage
Thousands of nurses and midwives walked off the job for 24 hours on 23 November.
It was the fourth statewide strike this year and the anger shows no signs of dwindling.
“We have been pushed around, bullied and fined, but we have stayed strong, and we keep standing together,” NSWNMA General Secretary, Shaye Candish, told 3000 nurses and midwives gathered in Sydney’s Martin Place.
Shaye said the state government cannot continue to ignore the needs of nurses and midwives and the needs of patients.
“The broken NHPPD system is continually ignored and undermined. Your goodwill is being manipulated by an unsupportive government that refuses to take responsibility for the staffing crisis they created,” she said.
“This government just thinks nurses and midwives are collateral damage after the pandemic.”
Shaye also called for the govern-ment’s discredited wages cap to be scrapped.
“Healthcare as we know it is deter-iorating in front of our eyes and NSW is being left behind as other states capitalise on the falling wages and conditions we have in NSW and entice our peers to work interstate. NSW is now the second-worst-paid state in the country,” she said.
“The wages cap has suppressed your wages for more than 10 years. This government has saved itself $120,000 from each public sector nurse and midwife since the cap was introduced.
“The wages cap will impact nurses and midwives into their retirement too. It is deeply discriminatory policy designed by politicians who have no understanding of the value that you bring to your communities.”
NSWNMA Liverpool Hospital Branch President and emergency nurse, Melissa Mansell, described the physical and mental toll bearing down on overworked nurses and midwives.
“How can the job I love hurt me this much? How can fighting for my patients be this difficult? How can being a nurse make me feel so sick I don’t want to do it anymore?” she said.
NSWNMA Cooma Hospital Branch President and theatre nurse, Bob Lloyd, told the Sydney crowd that poor staffing was rife in regional areas.
“Half our ward nurses are agency on short-term contracts to fill a huge number of vacancies – just like a lot of other regional hospitals across the state. We need a better permanent skill mix and the resources to make that happen. Our community deserves better care. Our staff deserve better care,” he said.
NSW Assistant General Secretary, Michael Whaites, said there was no choice but to continue fighting for ratios.
“Every day they refuse to fix the staffing crisis is another day risking patient safety, another unnecessary instance of missed care.
“And that’s why every day we fight for patient safety. We will continue to take action until change is implemented – until they implement shift-by-shift ratios.”
NSWNMA President, O’Bray Smith, reminded the rally that nurses and midwives have plenty of power to wield in the March state election.
“We are powerful when we stick together. We hold 75,000 votes in NSW. We need to remind the politicians that we are too big, too loud and too angry to be ignored. Let’s continue the fight until we get what we need and what every patient in NSW deserves,” she said.
Where the political parties stand on our claim
The ALP has committed to support our ratios claim in ED, ICU, MPS, MAT and all current NHPPD units. It has also promised to scrap the wages policy.
- The Greens have tabled legislation to deliver ratios across NSW hospitals. They also support the scrapping of the wages cap.
- The Perrottet government remains intransigent on both ratios and the wage cap – a policy of more of the same.