|Issue No 107||17 August 2001|
Nurses Pay Action Hots Up
NSW nurses have commenced the industrial phase of their campaign to have their value recognized, with two-hour stoppages across Western Sydney the taste of things to come.
Nurses from Westmead Hospital, Westmead Community Health, Auburn District Hospital and Auburn Community Health, Westmead Children's Hospital, Cumberland Hospital, Blacktown Hospital, Blacktown Community Health and Mount Druitt Hospital all stopped worked for two hours on Friday.
NSWNA General Secretary, Sandra Moait, says the industrial action in Western Sydney will be followed by similar action around the State, unless the State Government commits itself to again making nursing an attractive career option through improved wages and conditions.
"Skeleton staffing will be maintained in all facilities to provide necessary nursing care, because we are trying to minimise any inconvenience to the public during this campaign. However, tomorrow's action is a significant escalation of the dispute as, up until now, nurses have mostly been implementing work bans at hospitals around the State. The action indicates the strong commitment Western Sydney nurses have to rebuilding the local public health system.
"NSWNA branches in Western Sydney advise there are at least 242 nursing positions vacant at Westmead, Westmead Children's, Blacktown, Auburn and Mount Druitt hospitals. This is putting enormous pressure on the remaining nurses and the region is on the verge of bed closures and service restrictions to relieve the pressure.
"NSWNA members are perplexed about why the State Government is just sitting back and doing nothing to improve nurses pay - especially at this time of serious shortages, when we are having trouble enticing nurses to stay in or come back to the profession," Ms Moait said.
Western Sydney Area Health Service nurse vacancies: Westmead Hospital 120, Children's Hospital at Westmead 50, Mount Druitt Hospital 20, Blacktown Hospital 27, Auburn District Hospital 25.
The NSWNA has more than 3000 members working for the Western Sydney Area Health Service.
The What's a Nurse Worth? campaign was launched in July at the NSWNA's annual conference, with the objective of solving the NSW nurse shortage through improved wages and conditions for nurses. Despite acknowledging there is a nurse shortage in NSW, the State Government has rejected a NSWNA request for the Industrial Relations Minister, John Della Bosca, to initiate an urgent case before the NSW Industrial Relations Commission aimed at improving nurse wages and conditions.
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