The O’Farrell Government is relentless in its efforts to deny nurses and midwives their right to a modest 2.5% pay rise.
In the week before Christmas, when we celebrate the birth of one of the original champions of social justice, the O’Farrell Government unleashed a campaign to deny nurses and midwives the right to their full 2.5% wage increase.
The NSW Industrial Relations Commission (IRC) had just decided in favour of a union application to give public sector workers, including nurses and midwives, the full 2.5% wage increase – originally set out in the O’Farrell Government’s own wage policy.
Since May last year the state government has tried to discount this promised 2.5% pay increase by 0.25% to pay for the increase to the Superannuation Guarantee legislated by the federal government.
NSW unions successfully argued that the 2.5% should not be discounted and the IRC agreed, awarding the full 2.5% in June last year. That decision was upheld before Christmas, leading to a concerted three-pronged attack by the state government, launched on Christmas Eve, to undermine the IRC’s decision:
NSWNMA General Secretary Brett Holmes says the government has become obsessive about obstructing a modest pay increase to nurses, midwives and other public sector workers.
“The O’Farrell Government’s aim is to limit your wage to 2.27% per annum from 1 July 2013. NSW Health is already paying this amount as a fait accompli in defiance of your legal right to the whole 2.5%, determined on more than one occasion in the NSW Industrial Relations Commission.
“Last year the government sought to use its massive majority in the state parliament to throw out the independent umpire’s decision and pass a regulation overturning it. This arrogant attempt to move the goal posts was soundly defeated in the Upper House. Without any shame, it is now attempting to bulldoze the same regulation through Parliament again.
“This government’s contempt for public sector workers, our Parliament and the independent industrial umpire knows no bounds,” he said.
The High Court has overturned laws introduced by the New South Wales government that put a cap on the total amount an organisation could spend on political advertising and related election material.
Responding to a challenge by Unions NSW and four unions – the AMWU, the TWU, the USU and the NSW Teachers Federation – the High Court found the laws were invalid because they breached the implied freedom of political communication enshrined in the constitution.
The court also revoked a law that banned corporations and associations from making political donations in state and local government elections.
Unions NSW Assistant Secretary Mark Morey said “the court has spoken very loudly to confirm people have the right to come together, to put their money together and to participate in the political process”.
He said the laws attacked “community groups and church groups who dissented the governmnent’s position on a range of issues”.
NSWNMA General Secretary Brett Holmes welcomed the decision: “The government’s laws restricted our ability to campaign in support of our members’ interests.
“They reflected a worrying trend by political parties of all persuasions to restrict the power and influence of individuals and groups to examine, analyse and criticise governments.
“They want to preserve the field for politicians and parties to control the flow of information – or misinformation – to the electorate at large.
“The Association has always maintained that the best course of addressing concerns about the influence of money upon politicians and political parties is by way of full disclosure.”
The Abbott Government wants to charge $6 for all GP visits, with the possibility of extending the charge to emergency room visits. The NSWNMA is supporting a campaign against this attack on universal healthcare, part of Tony Abbott’s broader agenda of attacks on public services. The government has already threatened Aboriginal legal services, the roll out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme and funding for education. It is considering privatising the HECS (HELP) scheme, Australia Post and Medibank.
An attack on healthcare is an attack on worker’s rights. It’s time to come out and demand a free, fully funded healthcare system.
Join the rally at 1pm, Saturday February 15, at Sydney Town Hall, to say “no!” to Tony Abbott’s attacks on Medicare. The rally’s demands are:
Join the NSWNMA contingent at the February 15 rally and take a stand against Abbott’s attacks on public services.
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