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October 2, 2023

NSW nurses and midwives go on strike tomorrow for better ratios and fair pay

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Over the past week, 99 per cent of the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) branches who voted were in favour of strike action and called on the NSW Premier to urgently implement shift by shift nursing and midwifery staffing for safe patient care.

To bring their point home, tomorrow, Tuesday February 15, thousands of nurses and midwives from more than 150 public hospitals and health services will strike statewide over the NSW government’s failure to introduce nurse-to-patient ratios on every shift.

NSWNMA General Secretary, Brett Holmes, said the strike was a culmination of ten years’ inaction by the government and its refusal to negotiate with nurses and midwives to secure safe staffing on each shift in every hospital.

‘Our members have overwhelming indicated how fed up they are with the NSW government for continuing to ignore the need for nurse-to-patient ratios on every shift across our public health system, similar to those already working successfully in Queensland and Victoria,’ he said.

Nurses and midwives had to fight to be safe at work

‘Nurses and midwives across NSW have had to fight to be safe at work during the current pandemic. Fit testing, workers’ compensation and leave entitlements have been a constant battle under this government.

‘Each peak of this pandemic has demanded more from our members and put them under considerable strain. Working conditions have deteriorated as staff vacancies increased, scope of practice has been diluted, admissions have skyrocketed, and untrained staff have been introduced into care models. All of this impacted the level of care they can provide to patients.

Mr Holmes said COVID-19 has exacerbated the failings of the health system and highlighted the disrespect shown to nurses and midwives by this government. ‘The platitudes will not be enough to sustain our already fatigued and diminished health workforce.’

In addition to their request for nurse-to-patient ratios in every hospital, Mr Holmes confirmed NSWNMA members were seeking:

  • a fair pay rise above 2.5%, for recognition of nurses and midwives’ workloads during the pandemic and to compensate for their wage freeze in 2020. A COVID-19 allowance would be additional recognition but does not replace other demands.
  • withdrawal of the amendment to the Workers’ Compensation Act that would force workers to prove they contracted COVID-19 at work.

A pivotal moment for nurses and midwives

NSWNMA Assistant General Secretary, Shaye Candish, said tomorrow’s action was a pivotal moment for nurses and midwives statewide because many had reached the end of their goodwill.

‘Our members are done with being told to just keep going. They have gone above and beyond to sacrifice themselves, particularly over the past two years, but this issue goes further to securing the future of our state’s nursing and midwifery workforce,’ said Ms Candish.

‘Nurse-to-patient ratios and safer midwifery staffing would drastically improve the level of patient care our members can provide and must be introduced across the state.

‘Our members do not take industrial action lightly. They want to deliver high-quality care to the patients of NSW, but the government’s refusal to listen has placed our members in an impossible situation. So far, the government hasn’t given them a thing except pats on the back.

Life-preserving services will be maintained

The strike action will be staggered across the morning, with some nurses and midwives walking off the job for up to 24 hours. During the strike, life-preserving services will be maintained in all public hospitals and health services (a list of participating branches and times is available here).

As part of the strike action, NSWNMA members will march down Macquarie Street ahead of a COVID-safe rally outside Parliament House from 10am.

In conjunction, major regional rallies will occur in Bathurst, Bega, Coffs Harbour, Lismore, Newcastle and Tamworth. While further rallies will also take place outside local hospitals or health services, parks or state MP’s offices.

The NSWNMA reiterated its ongoing willingness to hold discussions with the NSW Premier and has not ruled out further actions over the coming months.

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  1. Premier Domicron will give the Nurses and Midwives the same treatment he gives Teachers and Transport workers – condemn them for striking and label them as militant and extortionate. The Liberals love this stuff, their bread and butter, demonising any rebelling groups of workers.

  2. Listen up Perrottet/Morrison, this why your rotten Lieberal party had a 20% swing against that parachuted in creep party hack you forced on us in Berejiklian’s old seat! The people want real representation, by people, not these corporate spivs and shonks your party keeps inflicting on us! These nurses have been demanding action for years now with no response from your deaf dumb and blind deadwood party!

    • He ignores them purposely, just keep saying NO, banking on them not quitting their jobs and running out of puff with their campaign.

  3. Domicron said no the Nurses pre-Covid and all the way during 2 years plus Covid. The dude is a $’s before people idealogue ( witness his debacles over iDON’Tcare, Covid, TAHE ) he won’t ever change course. His response after Super Saturday when he said that he is steering the ‘right’ Covid course further confirms affairs, sacrifice scores of lives at the alter of the $’salmighty. Domicron is the father of 6 children, you’d think the dude might have some first hand experience of the lot that is Nurses and Midwives.


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