Workloads action

A key aim of our pay campaign is to solve the crises of excessive workloads and nurse shortages.

Branches are encouraged to take action to stop award breaches, including unreasonable overtime worked due to nurse shortages or the inability to fill shifts with agency nurses.

Closure threat delivers new nurses at Shoalhaven

Shoalhaven Hospital has agreed to recruit more staff after overworked nurses threatened to close an operating theatre because the hospital breached the award by not meeting ACORN 2002 standards.

Fed-up theatre nurses swung into action when hospital administration failed to address chronic understaffing.

After an NSWNA meeting in late-March threatened to close one of Shoalhaven’s four theatres, hospital management moved to advertise and fill five positions by the end of May.

NSWNA Branch President Hugh Whitfeld said the union campaign had been led and driven by ‘RNs on the ground’.

‘Grassroots nurses did all the hard work. They crunched the numbers to find that the theatres were short of 10 FTE positions,’ said Hugh.

The hospital was running two theatres but with only enough nurses for one, according to ACORN standards.

Hugh said the key to the success of the campaign was the ‘unity of fed-up nurses’. He said having reasonable workloads provisions incorporated into the award gave nurses the power to take action on chronic understaffing.

A letter to Robyn

CNEs , tired of lower rates of pay and high workloads, are writing personal letters to the Director General of NSW Health, Robyn Kruk, to explain why they deserve a better deal.

RPAH, Prince of Wales and Liverpool Hospital CNEs have written to Robyn arguing that their jobs have gone beyond their award descriptions. They are increasingly asked to conduct university tutorials, plan courses and write policies.

CNEs, who implement NSW Health policies that protect patient safety, are vital to maintaining safety standards in hospitals.

The current pay and conditions claim includes for CNEs to have the right to pursue futher pay increases during the next four years – to recognise their increasing work responsibilities. So far the claim to be able to arbitrate a pay increase has been refused.

If you’re a CNE who hasn’t yet written a letter, contact the NSWNA on 8595 1234 (metro) or 1300 367 962 (country) and ask to speak to the campaigns office.

Make sure you sign the petition to support more pay increases for ENs who achieve the qualification to administer medication.

Download the petition from the NSWNA website or ask your delegate.

Nepean theatre nurses win fairer workloads

Nepean theatre nurses have achieved a major win in the campaign against unreasonable workloads and chronic overwork.

Nepean Hospital has seven theatres but – according to the Australian College of Operating Room Nurses (ACORN) standards – the hospital only has the nursing skills mix to staff four or five theatres. The Hospital attempted to address the issue by having theatre nurses work overtime and extra shifts.

The fed-up nurses arranged a meeting to discuss the problem and sent a firm resolution to manage-ment saying that they could only operate four theatres at the current staffing levels. The resolution made management sit up and take notice.

In consultation with the Workloads Committee, the hospital agreed to look at the nursing skills mix in theatres.

The Committee decided that three managers must now meet daily to discuss the staffing needs for that day to ensure they meet ACORN 2002 standards. If staffing levels do not meet ACORN 2002 standards, theatres will be closed.

Nurses in action

Liverpool Hospital Rally – 4 April

More than 16 kilos of sausages were sizzled at the lunchtime rally which attracted hundred of community members and nurses.Branch president Brian Grant addressed the rally, along with Brett Holmes and the local member for Liverpool, Paul Lynch, who pledged to take the issue of nurses’ pay back to his fellow parliamentarians.

  • We’re professionals
    ‘We believe we’re worth just as much as any other public servant in the system. Nurses are very well trained under the university system, we’re professional people and we should be treated as professionals.’
    Wendy Smith, nurse educator
  • Falling behind
    ‘Our friends are so much ahead of us and better off. It takes us so many years to get up to their wage. Then we’ve got to pay for our degree.’
    Jodie Scott, paediatric nurse
  • Pretty scary
    ‘It’s pretty slack that after three years of uni, you come out as one of the lowest paid professions. It’s pretty scary, you can get sued if you do something wrong.’
    Lilla Silaphet, paediatric nurse
  • Retain nurses
    ‘It will help with recruitment and retention. More nurses will be willing to come to work because the pay is better.’
    Saroj Naidu, cardio thoracic nurse
  • Unsociable hours
    ‘It will encourage more new graduates to come into nursing. We need to be recognised for the unsociable hours and the long hours we work.’
    June Tayler, cardio thoracic nurse
  • We work hard
    ‘We deserve the 4%. We need the money. We work hard. We see more and more patients every day.’
    Imelda De Guzman, renal nurse
    St George rally – 7 April
  • Must retain nurses
    ‘We need equal pay so we can retain nurses in the profession and not lose them to other health specialties such as physio and occupational therapy, which are now getting paid more than nurses.’
    Jodie Bancroft, nurse educator
  • We’re under-valued
    ‘Nurses are under-valued. Pay is a significant issue as to why people would select nursing as a career choice. The responsibility and the pay are very closely linked.’
    Therese Riley, nurse educator
  • Please recognise us
    ‘If the government is really serious about fixing the health system, they need to recognise that nurses do a really important job. If we aren’t paid equally to other health professionals by the same work we do, then I think they are going to find themselves with more trouble.’
    Janet Angus, nurse educator
  • We want equal pay
    ‘I’m here to get equal pay for a fair day’s work. All the other allied health are getting the 4%, but we’re getting 3%. We’re doing similar work, if not more, and we just feel that we deserve the same pay rise.’
    Maureen McDowell, nurse educator
  • Big responsibilities
    ‘ We have big responsibilities, and I think we should have equal pay with the rest of the public servants. It will help to keep the nurses in the workforce.’
    Amy Fung, vascular surgery

Parliament House Rally – 5 April
Pensioners selling lamingtons to help Bob Carr fund the nurses’ pay rise joined nurses from Sydney and St George Hospitals, as well as representatives from the Combined Pensioners and Superannuates Association of NSW. Many members of the public signed postcards, and passing taxis tooted their support.

  • We’re overworked
    ‘Consider all the work we do, not only as an NUM but there’s more people sick at this time and not many staff around. Cons-tantly as a manager, you’re on the floor working. People have burnout.’
    Pele Lutui-Palmer, NUM
  • United stand
    ‘I think we have to show a united front together for the whole hospital system. If the nurses fall down, what’s going to happen? Who’s going to look after me when my time comes?’
    Robin Meehan, CNS
  • We deserve 4%
    ‘The previous wage case was a work value case to bring us into line with other professions. So they can’t say that we shouldn’t be kept in line with other professions to get the same 4%.’
    Phillip Sheard , EDWe want equal pay
    Easter show