Nurses and midwives deserve more in 2024

The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) will pursue a 15% pay rise and improvements in conditions to repair the depleted nursing and midwifery workforce in the state’s public hospitals.

The NSWNMA is calling on the state government to invest in nurses and midwives in order to rebuild the public sector workforce after years of wage suppression under previous governments.

As part of its claim, the NSWNMA is seeking better conditions on behalf of members, including:

  • a 30% penalty rate for night shifts,
  • increasing sick leave to 20 days,
  • 100% salary packaging,
  • an increase for midwives working in midwifery group practice,
  • better work-life balance with consecutive rostered days off, and no changes to published rosters unless consulted.

The NSWNMA has also sought further funding for nurse-to-patient ratios to be rolled out in every ward and unit in every public hospital, across the five agreed clinical areas of emergency departments, intensive care units, medical/surgical and mental health wards, maternity and multi-purpose services, allowing the government to complete its Safe Staffing policy.

NSWNMA General Secretary, Shaye Candish, said a 15% pay increase was justified and necessary in the current economic climate.

“A committee of our members combed through strong economic evidence from industrial relations and economic experts to reach a pay claim we believe is reasonable and achievable,” said Ms Candish.

“The rate of pay for this female dominated workforce is failing to keep pace with male dominated professions. If we’re serious about closing the gender pay gap, if we’re serious about providing women economic security, then raising the pay of nurses and midwives will go a long way in achieving those aims.”

Ms Candish said the 15% increase in pay would help ease the financial hardships so many nurses and midwives were enduring.

“Nurses and midwives are feeling the cost-of-living pinch. They’re struggling to find affordable and secure housing in reasonable proximity to their workplaces and they’re being slugged parking fees at many public hospitals,” said Ms Candish.

“Our community recognises the professionalism and incredible worth of nurses and midwives. It is time their pay reflects and respects their contribution to people’s lives and the economy.”

NSWNMA Assistant General Secretary, Michael Whaites, said the pay claim would make NSW more attractive for nurses and midwives, and more competitive compared to other states like Queensland.

“Nurses and midwives’ wages in NSW have been eroded over time. This is a necessary pay rise that addresses inflation and considers the productivity gains we’ve missed out on. It will lead to less overtime, reduced staff turnover, and ensure rosters are filled,” said Mr Whaites.

“This will attract more people into the professions, as well as retain our experienced and skilled nurses and midwives, so we don’t continue to lose them across the border or see them leave the industry early.”

Mr Whaites said current funding for minimum and enforceable staffing ratios wouldn’t cover all hospitals and all five designated specialities over the next four years.

“We need to see the NSW government commit to fully funding this important workforce initiative within this term of government. While we welcome the start of Safe Staffing Levels in hospital emergency departments this year, current funding means we won’t see it rolled out across all wards and units in every public hospital,” said Mr Whaites.

“It’s simple, NSW nurses and midwives deserve more in 2024.

The public sector pay and conditions claim was overwhelmingly endorsed by NSWNMA members during a vote conducted last month, and has been served on the Ministry of Health. The current Public Health System Nurses’ and Midwives’ (state) Award is due to expire on 30 June.

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