Nurses and midwives to send powerful message this May Day

NSW Nurses and Midwives Association (NSWNMA) members in Sydney will march with hands tied on Sunday under the banner ‘If you don’t care, we can’t care’, sending a powerful wake-up call to the federal government this May Day.

An idiom for “my hands are tied”, the bound wrists signify how the government’s $57 billion health cuts are putting excessive strain on workers and threatening the quality of care they can provide.

NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) General Secretary, Brett Holmes, said the cuts are pushing hospitals beyond their limits and pressuring management to adopt options that are not sustainable in the long term.

“Our public hospitals are already under enormous strain to manage the increasing demand from population growth and ageing. These cuts mean more staff cuts and reduced services in our public hospitals as management strip back to more affordable models,” said Mr Holmes.

“In addition to this, we’re facing $650 million of cuts to Medicare in July, which means bulk-billing will end on essential tests like pap smears, blood tests, X-rays and MRIs. On Sunday we’ll be making these issues known and continue our fight to retain penalty rates and registered nurses in aged care.

“May Day is a significant day for the union movement to celebrate how far we’ve come with workers’ rights but it’s also important for us not to lose sight of the future. If we’re to meet the challenge of an ageing population by growing a highly skilled health workforce and advancing health technology, we need appropriate federal funding.”

Sunday’s May Day march will begin at Belmore Park, Central and continue along George Street to Victoria Park, where public sector workers, families and friends will gather to both reflect on historic victories, such as the eight-hour working day, and discuss current threats to workers’ rights.

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