NSW Government ‘silencing’ public sector workers with proposal to increase fines for strikes
The NSW Government has proposed new regulations that would increase fines for trade unions who take strike action not approved by the NSW Industrial Relations Commission.
The proposal comes after months of failed negotiations between the NSW government and public sector unions like the NSWNMA, leading to numerous strikes and industrial unrest over pay and conditions.
Over the past 12 months, nurses and midwives, along with teachers, bus drivers, cleaners and other public sector workers have gone on strike demanding the government deliver a pay rise that keeps up with inflation and address key safety and understaffing issues across various sectors including health and education.
In response to public sector workers demands, the NSW Finance Minister Damien Tudehope has instead announced increased fines for strike action.
The new fines would now see trade unions fined up to $55,000 for strike action taken in defiance of an IRC ruling and up to $27,500 issued for each day after. While unions who repeatedly breach orders would face fines of up to $110,000.
NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association Assistant General Secretary Shaye Candish has called the move by the government a ‘silencing tactic’.
“The government does not want to face the realities of our health system and this silencing tactic is just another attempt to punish nurses and midwives who are speaking out in the name of patient safety.” Shaye Candish, NSWNMA Assistant General Secretary.
“Teachers, nurses and midwives and the majority of public sector workers are women. Women who have been working tirelessly throughout COVID, caring for our community in the hospital system or teaching our kids under extraordinary circumstances. And these women are fed up with this government telling them to sit down, be quiet and put up with unmanageable workloads and low pay.” Shaye Candish, NSWNMA Assistant General Secretary.
Under NSW laws, the NSW upper house can vote down any new regulation within 15 parliamentary sitting days. The regulation is expected to be voted on in early August with Labor and the Greens aiming to block the government’s regulation.
They will however need the support of independents or the Shooter Fishers and Farmers to defeat the NSW government’s latest attack on unions.
Unions NSW have mounted a campaign to lobby the crossbench in the NSW upper house, calling on them to reject the government’s regulation. You can find out more about the campaign and sign the petition here.