Sunday 13th May 2007
Your right to vote is no small thing. Your vote at the federal election will be a referendum on Howard`s IR laws.
Earlier in the year I said in a Lamp editorial that 2007 was to be a pivotal year for all nurses and workers in this country with work conditions, livelihoods and economic security at risk.
I said this in the context of two important elections at the state and federal level which I said should be referendums on the federal government’s IR laws if our rights at work are to be protected.
NSW nurses had a significant and telling impact in the NSW state election and forced both parties to improve their positions on nursing as a result of our campaigning.
It is also an election year for the NSWNA and I have just been informed by the Electoral Commission that I have been re-elected unopposed as General Secretary.
I consider it to be a great privilege to be the General Secretary of this union and I feel honoured by this show of confidence. It is with genuine humility that I accept the opportunity to continue to work for members. It is something I will never take for granted.
Although we have been operating in the most hostile period in recent history in Australia the Association has achieved some excellent improvements for nurses in their pay and conditions.
I am proud of these achievements during this very difficult time for our union.
I am also proud of the team that has helped me deliver them.
NSWNA staff have risen to the challenges presented by the federal government’s IR laws with admirable commitment and resolve.
NSWNA councillors, a very committed and impressive group of nurses who give enormous amounts of their time and energy to the running of this union as well as to maintaining their nursing jobs, have been pillars of support for me.
Much of what they do is unheralded and they deserve respect from nurses in NSW for their contribution to the success of this union.
I am satisfied about the health of the union as we chart our way through these difficult political and industrial waters.
Unlike many other unions, we continue to grow our membership. We have increased the number of staff to deal with the increased needs of our members arising from the federal government’s new laws.
We have established a Nurse Power fund so we can run high profile campaigns in the interests of nurses. Our assets and finances remain robust. We have increased the number of branches and delegates. We have expanded the range of services to members including NurseCover and Union Shopper.
But I also remain vigilant. No union leader can afford to be complacent in the current political environment.
I will continue to do everything necessary to improve the lot of nurses no matter what the circumstances and political legal environment we operate in.
At one level we will continue to put resources and energy into defending the interests of nurses in aged care and private hospitals which are now engulfed in the federal system.
We will pressure the state government to stick to the promises it made to public hospital nurses during the state election campaign.
But at another level we will continue to campaign for the abolition of WorkChoices so all nurses and their families are rewarded for their hard work and have the right to a fair go.
There is no more critical time than now for strong, consistent and unflinching leadership for this union in the face of the biggest attack we have faced in 100 years.