Vic nurses’ dispute highlights threats to NSW nurses

Angela Pridham, NSWNA Councillor and RN with Wollongong Community Mental Health, warns that the Victorian nurses’ dispute should be a real wake-up call for NSW nurses.

‘NSW public sector nurses are only protected as long as we have a Labor state government. A change of state government will see NSW nurses brought under the federal system and exposed to WorkChoices.

‘We will face the same threats and pressures as our Victorian colleagues, who are already in the federal system,’ said Angela. ‘We will have no bargaining power and no path to take industrial action to pursue what we are entitled to.’

NSWNA Assistant General Secretary, Judith Kiejda, said if a Howard government is returned, NSW public sector nurses face the threat of being forced on to AWAs because health funding could be tied to NSW Health offering its employees AWAs.

‘The next Health Agreement between the States and Commonwealth is due to be negotiated next year. A Howard government would most likely make federal health funding for the next five years conditional that the States offer their employees AWAs. If this happens, the NSW

Government will be forced to put public sector nurses on AWAs,’ she said.

‘It’s a sneaky way of bringing all nurses under WorkChoices.

‘We’ve already seen this happen in the tertiary sector where funding is tied to the universities offering their employees AWAs.

‘The Liberal-National Coalition is currently doing “Economic Modelling” on the benefits of having all current Award employees covered by WorkChoices. It is clearly their intention to introduce more measures to force more employees on to AWAs,’ said Judith.

‘With negotiations for NSW Nurses’ next pay rises commencing next year, I strongly recommend that nurses keep this in mind when voting on 24 November,’ said Judith.

ANF launches hardship fund for penalised nurses

The Victorian Branch of the ANF has established the Victorian Nurses Welfare & Hardship Fund to assist nurses who had their wages docked for participating in industrial action during their campaign for fair pay.

While this landmark case has resulted in a great win for Victorian nurses, it has come at a personal cost with many workers losing more than half their pay. Under WorkChoices, it is illegal for the ANF to ask the Victorian Government to repay the docked wages.