Australia: New South Wales nurses speak out on healthcare crisis in fourth statewide strike

Australia: New South Wales nurses speak out on healthcare crisis in fourth statewide strike

Thousands of New South Wales (NSW) public sector nurses took part in a statewide strike on Wednesday.

In a long-running industrial dispute with the NSW state government, they are demanding nurse-to-patient ratios to deal with overcrowding in hospitals and the relentless workload due to cuts in public health funding and the massive shortage of staff. Workers are also demanding wage increases to offset runaway inflation.

The Socialist Equality Party (SEP) campaigned among workers at strike rallies. The SEP raised the broader political issues, including the role of all official parties and trade unions in enforcing a deadly COVID-19 policy that has brought the already crisis-ridden public health system to a point of breakup.

The SEP has warned that the NSWNMA, which has been isolating nurses for most of the year, is now preparing to impose a sell-out deal that would solve nothing. SEP activists have called on nurses to take matters into their own hands by forming independent rank-and-file committees and uniting with other sections of workers, in health, education and more widely.


Victoria, a first-year nursing student whose mother is also a nurse, told the WSWS that students “do a lot of internships and I found that during internships we got used to filling in the staffing gap. They use us but we have little or no experience, which is not safe for us, not safe for patients, not safe for anyone.

Victoria [Photo: WSWS]

“COVID has absolutely made things worse.” Speaking on the end of a compulsory isolation period for people infected with COVID, Victoria said: ‘Now they want more people to come back to work rather than being at home and taking the time they need, which is not sure. This serves hospitals and management so they can pay less by getting their full-time employees back instead of being home rather than having to pay temps or temporary staff who have double pay rates.

The WSWS explained that NSW Labor leader Chris Minns opposed mandatory staffing ratios. “I think it’s awful. It shows they don’t really care,” Victoria said.

On cuts to health care by the Federal Labor Government in its recent budget, she commented: ‘They have put so much money into their own back pockets and into things like coal and oil mining and unsustainable energy and have taken that nursing and health care money to where it belongs. I think this budget needs to be reviewed and I think they need to get their priorities straight.

“Workers need to stick together. Nurses, teachers, railway workers, we are all paid for nothing. We are all despised by the government. I think teaming up would be a great idea. I think all health workers should team up as well.

On the question of breaking with union bureaucracy and nurses setting up their own rank-and-file committees, Victoria said: “I’m not very educated on this so I can’t give you a really in-depth answer. But it makes sense to me. If you continue to be disappointed with the support system that is supposed to help you, what else are you supposed to do? »

Congratulate [Photo: WSWS]

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