Nurses and midwives at two major Sydney private hospitals will walk off the job today for the first time in decades, following repeated statewide strikes by public sector colleagues this year.
The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) applied to the Fair Work Commission late last month for a protected action ballot, after bargaining stalled on two separate enterprise agreements with the St Vincent’s Health Australia group.
NSWNMA General Secretary, Shaye Candish, said a majority of members at Mater Private Hospital in North Sydney and St Vincent’s Private Hospital in Darlinghurst had voted for simultaneous stop work meetings as their first protected action.
“Our members are very frustrated and disappointed their vital contributions towards safe patient-centred care have been continuously ignored,” said Ms Candish.
“Our members are seeking reasonable improvements to their enterprise agreement, including mandated shift by shift nursing and midwifery ratios to ensure safe patient care, and a fair pay offer that acknowledges their work value as well as rising cost of living expenses.”
As part of the protected action, NSWNMA members at both hospitals would also refuse domestic and other non-nursing or non-midwifery duties.
NSWNMA Assistant General Secretary, Michael Whaites, said demand on nurses and midwives at the Mater and St Vincent’s Private was extraordinarily high and their workload concerns were valid.
“It’s no coincidence there’s been an exodus of nurses and midwives from the private sector in recent times,” said Mr Whaites.
“Nurses and midwives don’t feel valued or respected, despite maintaining their professionalism and dedication in caring for others shift after shift. They have been going above and beyond to try and deliver quality healthcare, yet their employer treats them with disdain.
“Private sector hospitals desperately need nursing and midwifery ratios to stop staff burnout and to ensure patients receive the safest care possible.”
The NSWNMA confirmed its members at the Mater and St Vincent’s Private hospitals would stop work for one-hour at both sites from 1pm on Thursday 22 December, to highlight their concerns with community members and supporters. Night shift staffing will be maintained in all wards and units for the duration of the stop work.