NSW Nursing union strike begins after talks fail

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NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard told 2GB’s Ben Fordham it was “disappointing” nurses decided to go ahead with their strike action, in defiance of a decision from the industrial watchdog.

Thousands of nurses and midwives from more than 150 public hospitals have voted in favour of a strike on Tuesday amid calls for better staffing and more pay.

But the union says it is determined for thousands of nurses and midwives to gather in Sydney today and march towards State Parliament at 10am to have their voices heard.

Despite concerns about disruptions to hospitals, the union has said life-preserving services will be maintained today.

NSW Nurses and Midwives Association member organiser Mark Murphy said workers were “beyond breaking point”.

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“What we’re hoping for today is for the NSW government to listen to our claims for safer patient care through nurse-to-patient and midwife-to-patient ratios, to commit to a pay rise greater than 2.5 per cent, and to abandon any plans they have to change the current workers’ compensation legislation,” he told Today.

Nurses have gathered in Sydney’s CBD this morning to march up Macquarie Street to NSW Parliament House.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard had met with representatives from the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association on Monday, but no agreement could be reached to address staffing issues and pay rates.

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NSW Health then sought the assistance of the Industrial Relations Commission, which resulted in the strike action being banned.

“The IRC ordered the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association to immediately cease organising and refrain from taking any form of industrial action tomorrow,” a NSW Health spokesperson said.

“It also must not authorise or encourage members of the union to organise or take industrial action.”

However, Nursing industry representatives said the action would go ahead as planned.

Thousands of nurses and midwives from more than 150 public hospitals have voted in favour of a strike on Tuesday amid calls for better staffing and more pay.