Wednesday 16th November 2005
Howard fails to convince workers’ deputation.
Shellharbour Hospital nurse Angela Pridham (pictured) spent an hour with the Prime Minister, who sought to reassure her that public hospital nurses had nothing to fear from his planned new laws.
Angela wasn’t convinced, and believes John Howard’s answers were ‘either misleading or showed a misunderstanding of his own legislation.’
Angela, NUM in the maternity unit at Shellharbour Hospital, joined a firefighter, a police officer and the secretary of the South Coast Labor Council, Arthur Rorris, in the meeting with Howard following the Wollongong demonstration.
Howard agreed to meet the deputation after Rorris complained to the PM’s staff that Howard’s Wollongong itinerary took in the local Liberal Party and Chamber of Commerce but ignored working people affected by the legislation.
Angela said she asked Howard what would happen to the nurses’ award, given that most of its conditions were not guaranteed under the proposed new system.
‘Howard said that if you’re under a state award that wouldn’t change and all clauses would be protected,’ Angela said.
‘I felt either all the unions and all the legal advisers in the unions have got this totally wrong, or John Howard doesn’t understand his own legislation.
‘I didn’t feel any more reassured that changes weren’t going to affect us.
‘When I tried to talk about private sector nurses he was very evasive. Even if public hospital nurses are protected under state awards, that’s not going to be the same for private hospital nurses or aged care nurses.
‘When I tried to draw him on that he kept coming back to the fact that obviously there will be some changes to the private sector but you don’t need to worry because you’re under the public hospitals award.’