Public employees, including disability nurses, filled Sydney Town Hall and the adjacent square in a Day of Action against state government cuts to pay and working conditions last month.
As protestors gathered in Sydney, nurses around the state wore red t-shirts to show support for their colleagues at Ageing, Disability and Home Care (ADHC) services.
Already paid less than public hospital nurses, ADHC nurses now stand to lose some shift penalty rates, some annual leave and all annual leave loading, among other conditions.
There were more than 40 other meetings held around the state, linked to the Sydney meeting, and nurses at several facilities stopped work.
More than 1000 ADHC nurses are among 80,000 government workers to be hit by the latest phase of the O’Farrell Government’s cost-cutting drive.
NSWNMA General Secretary, Brett Holmes, who attended the Town Hall rally, says the government has asked the NSW Industrial Relations Commission to vary the Crown Employees (Public Service Conditions of Employment) Award, in order to reduce the incomes of vital employees such as nurses and their support staff.
“The full extent of what Mr O’Farrell is trying to do has become much clearer in recent days,” he said. “The two nursing awards initially and immediately under attack are the Nurses’ (Department of Family and Community Services – Ageing, Disability and Home Care) (State) Award 2011 and the Crown Employees Nurses’ (State) Award 2011.
“This is the first step towards ripping away the important wage and condition improvements won by the NSWNMA in recent years, which are helping to maintain nursing and midwifery as attractive career options.
“We will vigorously oppose this unjustified attack on the income and rights of New South Wales wage and salary earners, including nurses and midwives in disability services,” Brett said.
The Sydney Town Hall meeting heard several passionate speeches from affected employees, appalled by the government’s attempt to abolish thousands of jobs and eliminate important working conditions.
Speakers included a corrections officer at Silverwater women’s prison, a national park ranger based in Jindabyne, a family caseworker with Community Services and an administrative worker in a public school.
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