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Nurses strike to demand better conditions and pay this week

Nurses and midwives will strike again on Thursday. Photo: NSW Nurses and Midwives' Association.

By MARCUS HAAR

After ongoing talks for better pay and work conditions, the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) are set to continue strike action this Thursday following another breakdown in discussions with the state government.  

A majority in the NSWNMA’s public sector branches voted for a second 24-hour state-wide strike following the initial strike six weeks ago, which was the first taken by nurses in nearly a decade. 

NSWNMA Assistant General Secretary Shaye Candish said that “unless the government agreed to a meaningful dialogue on safe staffing ratios and recognised how much Queensland and Victoria had benefitted since introducing ratios, more staff would continue to leave NSW”. 

“Nurses and midwives were deeply distressed by the government’s refusal to acknowledge the public health system crisis,” added Brett Holmes, General Secretary of the NSWNMA.  

Before the first strike in February this year, the NSW Industrial Relations Commission (IRC) made orders to stop the NSWNMA from making any industrial action, which the association ignored.  

The day before the initial strike, NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard met with the NSWNMA in an effort to prevent the action.  

“There’s been all sorts of efforts to try and work our way through their principal issues,” he told 2GB on the day of the first strike. 

“It’s particularly disappointing that the IRC made very strong orders advising the union to can the strike.”

Nurses strike follows some ICUs working without team leaders, proper staffing

Brett Holmes, General Secretary of the NSWNMA. Photo: Facebook.

Later that month, NSWNMA met with NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet for further discussion in nurse-to-patient ratios and pay increases, however, the NSWNMA has said that no offers have been received since that meeting. 

Opining in The Sydney Morning Herald, Holmes wrote that “staffing has become so bad that many ICUs are working without team leaders or the nurses they need in addition to bedside nurses to keep the units working seamlessly”.  

“Emergency department staff are also under increased pressure to perform basic, regular observations, and more patients are being left in chairs due to capacity issues.”

A copy with new orders has been brought forth by the IRC regarding this next strike, despite the action forging ahead with plans to continue.

Public rallies will be held this Thursday in Sydney, Albury, Armidale, Batemans Bay, Bathurst, Broken Hill, Coffs Harbour, Cooma, Goulburn, Griffith, Kempsey, Newcastle, Orange, Port Macquarie, Tamworth, Taree, Tweed Heads, Wagga Wagga, and Wollongong. 

The NSWNMA has said that the initial strike was held to highlight the ongoing understaffing, heavy workloads, and safety concerns for patients. 

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