MAY DAY 2006

Together we can win

‘Together we can win’ was the theme to this year’s May Day rally held in Hyde Park and NSWNA members hit the streets to voice their opposition to the federal government’s industrial relations legislation chanting, ‘WorkChoices; No Choices’.

May Day, an international day of workers’ rights and peace, is traditionally used by unions to celebrate the eight-hour principle – eight hour’s work, eight hour’s play and eight hour’s sleep. This year May Day marches across Australia were directed at rallying against the federal government’s new industrial relations laws that compromise this principle.

Vox pops:

  • Loss of penalty rates and conditions

Linda Abercrombie, Marilyn King and Angela Pridham are midwives at Shellharbour Hospital. They are concerned about the affect the legislation has on their award and the possible loss of penalty rates, long service leave and paid maternity leave. They are also concerned that the reasonable workloads clause they fought hard to include in their current award would disappear under a federal system.

  • ‘The changes generate an atmosphere of fear’

Julie Flanagan, RN at St George Hospital, said her family is concerned about the WorkChoices legalisation. ‘The changes to unfair dismissal laws generates an atmosphere of fear in the workplace.’

  • Solidarity among workers

Peg Hibbert, Clinical Nurse Specialist at Hornsby Hospital, said, ‘It’s important we have solidarity among workers in this country before our rights at work are completely eroded.’

  • WorkChoices doesn’t just affect workers, it affects whole families’

Jon and Katina Farry, both RNs at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, said it was important to take their family to May Day to show their opposition to the WorkChoices legislation because ‘it doesn’t just affect workers, it affects whole families’.

  • ‘Don’t give away conditions we’ve fought hard for’

Gayle Hartley, RN at Gosford Hospital, said she attended the rally with her daughter Corina because she doesn’t want to give away any of the conditions that her family fought for in the past.

‘The only way I have been able to build a good future for my children and provide for them is through shift work and penalty rates, and the industrial relations changes means that they could be taken away from us.’

  • WorkChoices makes the workplace sick

Hugh Clark, RN at Rozelle Hospital, likens the federal government’s industrial relations legislation to an illness affecting Australia. ‘John Howard has injected a disease into the workplace and it’s going to spread to our kids.’
Vanessa Nielsen, RN at RPA Hospital, said she has just started her career as a nurse and is concerned about instability in the health sector as a result of the legislation.