Nurses across NSW held one of their biggest strikes in history in NSW on July 24. Over 5,000 striking nurses packed into a meeting at Sydney’s Olympic Park and voted for another round of industrial action.
Nurses are demanding increased nurse-patient ratios to preserve the quality of care. They are asking for one nurse to three patients in emergency departments, and a four-hour cap on patient contact time in eight-hour shifts.
180 hospitals were affected by the strike, running at minimal staffing levels. The Olympic Park rally was livestreamed to protests at 17 other regional centres.
Edward, a nurse, wrote that he took strike action because, “I am campaigning for every nurse to be able to work in an area where they are adequately staffed, so that they can provide the high level of care all nurses strive to provide, though often are unable to… I am also striking to send a message to this government that their behaviour and attitude towards nursing and midwifery staff is unacceptable.”
The NSW government, led by Barry O’Farrell, is crying poor. But they found the money to run two full-page advertisements in the paper to claim the Nurses’ industrial action was injustified. They are offering a 2.5 per cent pay rise, of which 0.25 per cent is a superannuation increase, in exchange for no improvements in conditions. The 2.5 per cent pay cap policy has been imposed on the rest of the public sector.
If the nurses can beat this and win improved conditions, they will set an example for all the NSW unions.