An estimated 20,000 NSW healthcare workers, ranging from paramedics, allied health, cleaners, and security, will walk off the job on Thursday to demand fairer pay, recognition and more resources.
The industrial action by Health Services Union (HSU) members will see workers stop work for up to four hours, between 10am and 2pm, at hospitals and health facilities across the state. Paramedics will only respond to emergency patients during the standoff.
The action is in response to the NSW Government’s public sector wage cap of 2.5% and follows the second statewide strike by the state’s nurses and midwives within six weeks last Thursday.
HSU NSW Secretary Gerard Hayes said industrial action was never taken lightly and that members had been pushed to breaking point.
After repeated attempts by the union to discuss genuine bargaining for productivity-based pay rises were ignored, he says fed up and exhausted health and hospital workers were left with no alternative. The HSU is seeking a pay rise of at least 5%.
“We don’t need another politician thanking us for being heroes of the pandemic, we need a pay rise.”
“When politicians and managers retreated to air-conditioned zoom meetings, paramedics, ward assistants and security guards exposed themselves to COVID, without a vaccine, and often without masks and protective gear. We did our bit for the community.
“Now as the pandemic subsides, health and hospital workers are being smashed by higher prices and stagnant wages. The rent on a three-bedroom home in Sydney surged 11.3% in the last year. And everyone knows mortgage interest rates are set to double.”
Amid inflating running at 3.5%, and rising fuel prices, Mr Hayes said workers were struggling to make ends meet.
“Unfortunately this tight-fisted approach spills over to the private sector. If a therapist in a public hospital can’t get more than 2.5%, how does someone in an aged care facility doing the same work bargain for higher wages?
“NSW and the nation desperately need higher wages and this needs to start in the NSW health system.”
Thursday’s planned strike action will include a stop work meeting for 4 hours from 10am – 2pm at all major metro hospitals; a stop work meeting for 2 hours from 10am-midday at major regional hospitals including John Hunter, Wollongong, Gosford, Coffs Harbour, Murrumbidgee, Bathurst, Tweed and Tamworth; and stop work meetings at all remaining regional hospitals.