Wednesday 17th August 2011
Organising for Safe Patient Care was the theme of this year’s annual conference attended by over 400 delegates, representing NSWNA members at workplaces across NSW.
Two days of evocative presentations and lively discussion examined how we can build on the major achievements of the nurse-to-patient ratios campaign; and how we can prepare ourselves and protect nurses and their union against the risks posed by a Liberal State Government that has already moved to attack public sector workers’ rights.
General Secretary warns of threats to nurses
In his address to annual conference, NSWNA General Secretary Brett Holmes warned delegates of the serious threats to nurses and their union posed by the new Liberal Government, which has already moved to attack public sector workers’ rights.
‘The State election changed the face of the State Government. The new Liberal Government had only been in office 50 days before it launched an attack on public sector workers. The O’Farrell Government wiped out the right of the Industrial Relations Commission to arbitrate during new Award cases when we’re unable to negotiate.
‘Most industrial and professional gains of the past hinged on the Industrial Relations Commission playing a part. We are completely stifled now,’ said Brett.
‘The new workplace legislation is so broad and has only left eight protected areas that can’t be bargained away in order to achieve a wage rise.
‘The new legislation and regulations will have massive impact on all our futures.’
Brett commended the magnificent response from members and support from the community in protesting against these attacks.
Delegates received a rousing message of support, via video link, from Linda Silas and the Canadian Nurses’ Association.
Brett also commended members who campaigned so hard to win nurse-to-patient ratios in public hospitals. ‘One hundred and eighty Branches voted “yes” to take action to achieve ratios and this was pivotal.
‘We had to fight to get ratios, and we will continue to fight to see them implemented,’ said Brett. ‘Nurse-to-patient ratios will see improvements in the health system.’