Nurses from John Hunter Hospital and doctors joined forces with nurses from Newcastle Private Hospital in a rally on 17 February as a show of support for the private hospital nurses’ claim for equal pay and conditions with the public sector.
‘Nurses and supporters are here today to put pressure on our employers to offer us a fair pay and conditions deal,’ said Lynette Huckstadt, RN and President of the Newcastle Private Hospital Branch.
Nurses at Newcastle Private are currently 6% behind in pay compared to nurses in the public sector. For example, in real terms this means an 8th year RN at Newcastle Private is earning approximately $200 less a fortnight than an 8th year RN at the public hospital next door, based on similar qualifications, hours worked and allowances.
Andrew Rigg, RN at John Hunter Hospital, spoke on behalf of the NSWNA members at the John Hunter Hospital Branch in support of their private hospital colleagues and highlighted the importance of striking an agreement quickly so that private hospital nurses are under the protection of an agreement before the federal government’s WorkChoices legislation comes in effect in March.
Dr Michael Jonker, Anaesthetist, attended the rally in support of the nurses he works with. ‘Nurses are the backbone of a hospital delivering care, attention, support and expertise. To attract, retain and promote nursing professionals, the community needs to pay nurses what they’re worth,’ he said.
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