The playing field has been strongly tilted in favour of employers with the new federal IR laws but the NSWNA has achieved some big wins for nurses in 2006.
Putting the heat on John Hunter
The year started with nurses at John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle showing how innovative action can bring results. They handed out over 1,000 ice blocks to the local community and melted the health bureaucracy’s 15-year resolve to deny air conditioning to the hospital.
Protection for Affiliated Health Organisation nurses
In November, nearly 1,000 NSWNA members working at publicly-funded but privately-owned facilities known as Affiliated Health Organisations saw their working conditions and rights protected for at least the next year when employers agreed to a referral agreement with the union.
Iemma moves to protect public hospital nurses
April saw the NSW Labor government take decisive action to protect public hospital nurses from the Howard government’s new IR changes, passing laws that are protecting their award conditions from attack.
Better pay and conditions for all sectors
Aged care nurses received their second 6% pay increase from 30 March 2006 from the arbitrated case in the NSW Industrial Relations Commission held during 2004, bringing the total pay increase to 25% for aged care nurses since 2003.
In March, as black clouds gathered on the IR horizon, 95% of private hospital nurses won some excellent pay increases – 14.75% at Ramsay, Healthscope and many others – and protected their conditions for now from any roll back under the federal government’s new laws. The increases bring private hospital nurses to the same pay levels as their public hospital colleagues over the period to mid 2008.
Public hospital nurses received a 4% pay rise from July 1 2006 arising from the Public Health – There’s No Fix Without Nurses campaign last year.
… and strong campaigns
Sacked for doing her duty
In June the federal IR laws were barely in place when the first prominent nurse casualty occured. Anne Woodward, a nurse unit manager at the Kapooka Health Centre near Wagga Wagga, was sacked for voicing her concerns with her defence force supervisor about the delay of an ambulance called in to attend a suspected cardiac arrest. Nurses from Wagga Base hospital and local private hospital and aged care nurses rallied in support of Anne outside Kapooka.
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