Nurses rally for ‘proud past and fighting future’ on May Day

Scores of nurses and midwives will gather across major regional centres and in Sydney’s CBD this weekend to recognise May Day – the international day of worker solidarity – and take part in a host of public parades.

With workers’ rights under attack again from both the state and federal conservative governments, nursing and midwifery staff will celebrate historical wins, such as the eight-hour work day, and rally against a host of fresh challenges they face in the workplace.

Members of the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) will highlight the Abbott Government’s plans to abolish workers’ rights by slashing penalty rates and to destroy Australia’s universal health system by dismantling Medicare, including the proposal for a $6 fee per GP visit. They’ll also lobby for Canberra to implement a Robin Hood tax (Financial Transactions Tax) in Australia to further support the delivery of vital public health services.

Premier Mike Baird and his colleagues will be called into question for their privatisation plans, with fears every new public hospital or health facility in NSW will be gifted to private operators for profit. The State Government’s plan to privatise all disability services by June 2018, impacting up to 14,000 employees, will also be in the spotlight during May Day parades.

Proudly marching under the banner ‘Nurses and Midwives: A Force for Change – Putting Patient Safety First’, participating nurses and midwives will also emphasis their renewed call for mandated nurse-to-patient ratios in all hospitals and community health services throughout the State.

General Secretary of the NSWNMA, Brett Holmes, said it was more important than ever to preserve working rights and conditions that have been achieved in the past, and continue the fight for a better society.

“May Day parades demonstrate the very fabric of the labour movement around the globe – the hard fought battles to improve working conditions for future generations to enjoy, but it’s also an opportunity to raise awareness of new challenges which have surfaced,” Mr Holmes said.

“Despite numerous examples of privatisation failures, we’ve got a state government hell-bent on having the new Northern Beaches hospital run by the private sector, and keeping residents of the Hunter in the dark about how exactly the new Maitland Hospital at Metford will be operated.

“We are continuing the fight to expand nurse-to-patient ratios, ensuring the delivery of safe patient care right across NSW – we want the same level of nursing care that’s currently mandated in our big city hospitals to be provided throughout our country hospitals – it’s a common sense approach.

“The fact that Medicare, our 30 year old universal health system, is at risk of being unpicked by the Abbott Government is further evidence that nothing is off the table from destruction, along with the clawing back of penalty rates and resurrection of the horrid WorkChoices.”

Mr Holmes encouraged members, their families and friends to join hundreds of trade union affiliates participating in May Day parades on Saturday and Sunday and demonstrate ‘a proud past, a fighting future’ for the preservation of workers’ rights.

May Day parade details:

Newcastle, Saturday 3 May – March at 10am from Hamilton railway station, finishing in Gregson Park, Hamilton. NSWNMA contact: Matthew Byrne, 0428 267 119

Wollongong, Saturday 3 May – March at 10am from Lowden Square, Wollongong. NSWNMA contact: Mark Murphy, 0448 082 768

Orange, Sunday 4 May – March at 11:30am from corner of Clinton and Summer St near Cook Park, ending in Robertson Park. NSWNMA contact: Darius Altman 0414 550 058

Sydney, Sunday 4 May – March at 12pm from outside Parliament House in Macquarie St, ending in Hyde Park north

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