The O'Farrell Government is using its dictatorial industrial relations laws to try and sideline the debate about improved nurse staffing and safer patient care in NSW public hospitals and community health services, the NSW Nurses and Midwives' Association (NSWNMA) said today.
At the NSWNMA's bimonthly Committee of Delegates meeting on 21 May workplace delegates from around the state rejected the State Government's inadequate offer for a new wages and conditions agreement.
Workplace delegates angered
They are angry that the O'Farrell Government is:
- refusing to extend mandated minimum nurse-to-patient ratios to seriously ill children, emergency departments, high dependency units and rural hospitals and multipurpose services and provide safer nursing and midwifery staffing arrangements in community health services; and
- seeking to further discount the annual 2.5 per ent payrise to absorb the scheduled 0.25 percent rise in compulsory employer superannuation from 1 July 2011
Umpire not independent
The State Government has in turn told the NSWNMA it will now get the NSW Industrial Relations Commission (NSW IRC) to make a new pay and conditions award for nurses and midwives, based on this sub-standard offer.
Dictatorial industrial relations laws introduced by the O'Farrell Government, since its election in March 2011, have significantly reduced the independence of the NSW IRC in these matters.
In response to this State Government threat, delegations of NSWNMA members, in up to 50 rural, regional and marginal electorates held by Liberal or National MPs, will meet (Friday 31 May) outside the electorate offices of those MPs to protest against the State Government's substandard offer and its refusal to continue improving the public hospital and health system through safer nurse-to-patient ratios.
Two special events at Premiers and Health Minister's offices
- Barry O'Farrell's electorate office - 11.00am - Try to present bundle of letters from NSWNMA branches around the state
- Jillian Skinner's electorate office - 2.00pm - Try to present special cake iced with campaign logo
Tomorrow's delegations will also seek a meeting with each MP to ask them to stand up for their local communities and their public health services by opposing the State Government's dictatorial attempts to silence nurses and midwives in this way.
NSWNMA general secretary, Brett Holmes, said tomorrow's delegations will tell their local MPs that the State Government should not try to force a new award on nurses and midwives which does not include the extension of nurse-to-patient ratios to seriously ill children, emergency departments, high dependency units and rural hospitals and multipurpose services and provide safer nursing and midwifery staffing arrangements in community health services
Treating communities with contempt
"Ramming a new pay and conditions award down the throats of nurses and midwives in this way is a violation of their rights at work and also treats the needs of most public hospitals and community health services with contempt.
"In particular, it is a slap in the face for regional and rural communities around the state, who are entitled to the same mandated-minimum nursing ratios as the big city hospitals.
"We are asking the O'Farrell Government not to proceed in this dictatorial fashion. However, if it does, nurses and midwives will continue their Ratios put Patient Safety First campaign until we are satisfied safer nurse-to-patient ratios have been achieved," Mr Holmes said.
The NSWNMA's statewide Ratios put Patient Safety First campaign was launched in Sydney on Tuesday, 19 March.
A record 214 NSWNMA branches, representing more than 30,000 public-sector nurses and midwives throughout NSW, have endorsed the NSWNMA's ratios and wages claim, which was then formally presented to the State Government, through the Health Ministry, on March 11.
The current Public Health System Nurses & Midwives (State) Award expires on June 30 this year.
A key feature of the 2013 claim is guaranteed, safer nursing and midwifery levels for seriously ill children, emergency departments, high dependency units and rural hospitals and multipurpose services, and safer nursing and midwifery staffing arrangements in community health services.
The claim also includes two 2.5 per cent per year payrises, which will provide the majority of experienced, full-time nurses and midwives with a payrise of more than $70.00 per week, or more than $3800.00 per year, by July 2014.