Private sector nurses walk out in Wollongong

Nurses at Wollongong Day Surgery will stop work for four hours today (Wednesday 22 March), following a breakdown in talks over safe staffing ratios and fair pay with their employer.

The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) successfully applied to the Fair Work Commission last month for a protected action ballot after bargaining stalled on a new enterprise agreement with Healthe Care.

NSWNMA General Secretary, Shaye Candish, said a majority of members at multiple Healthe Care facilities across the state, including Wollongong Day Surgery, recently voted for a range of protected actions to highlight their unsafe staffing and workload concerns.

“The stop work meeting at Wollongong Day Surgery is one of the first protected actions to highlight how frustrated our members feel about Healthe Care ignoring these ongoing staffing issues,” said Ms Candish.

“Our members are seeking sensible improvements to their enterprise agreement including shift by shift nursing and midwifery ratios to ensure safe patient care, and a fair pay offer reflecting rising costs of living.”

Negotiations for a new enterprise agreement commenced back in December 2021. A proposed agreement by Healthe Care, including a 2.5% pay offer per year over four years, was rejected in December 2022.

To date, Healthe Care has refused to negotiate on staffing ratios and this week put a revised offer to a vote, which includes just 1.75% more in total pay rises across the life of the agreement.

NSWNMA Assistant General Secretary, Michael Whaites, said too many nurses were experiencing growing exhaustion, burnout, and psychological injury at work.

“Our members in private sector hospitals desperately need nursing and midwifery ratios to stop staff burnout and to ensure patients receive the safest care possible,” said Mr Whaites.

“Nurses and midwives worked tirelessly on the frontline of Healthe’s COVID-19 response. They’ve endured through uncomfortable and exhausting working conditions. They deserve a respectful pay rise that keeps pace with the increased cost of living.”

NSWNMA members in five other private hospitals, including Brisbane Waters Private, Forster Private, Hurstville Private, Maitland Private and Mayo Private are also taking protected action this week including wearing badges and banning requests for overtime, roster changes and non-nursing domestic duties.

 NSWNMA members at Wollongong Day Surgery will stop work today for 4-hours from 8am to 12pm to raise their concerns with community members.

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