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Penalty cuts the ‘cruellest of all’

Thursday, 5th March, 2015

Striking nurses took their concerns to the office of health minister and local MP Sussen Ley yesterday. The nurses were led by Aged Care Nursing delegate Christine Spangler (left), Nurses Association local president, Ben Lansdowne, and secretary Zoe Tonkin. PICTURE: Emily Roberts Striking nurses took their concerns to the office of health minister and local MP Sussen Ley yesterday. The nurses were led by Aged Care Nursing delegate Christine Spangler (left), Nurses Association local president, Ben Lansdowne, and secretary Zoe Tonkin. PICTURE: Emily Roberts

By Emily Roberts

Local nurses took to the streets yesterday to show their opposition to any penalty rate cuts.

The nurses joined a nation-wide action strike against what they say is the Federal Government’s attack on workers’ rights.

General Secretary of the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA), Brett Holmes, said the nurses and midwives felt compelled to act as a result of the Productivity Commission’s latest inquiry into all aspects of working conditions and the threat it poses to penalty rates, the minimum wage and a return of unfair individual contracts.

The nurses marched on the offices of Federal MP Sussan Ley and Murray-Darling MP John Williams and presented letters stating their position.

Zoe Tonkin, secretary of the local Association branch, said penalty rates were important to shift nurses.

“It is very important to our profession,” she said.

“Without penalty rates we would find it harder to fill positions. Nursing as a career path wouldn’t be attractive.

“If you earned the same money working 9am to 5pm, as you did working midnight to 6am, why would you do it?

“It’s hard to be away from your family, it’s hard to have relationships, it’s unsocial hours.

“I don’t think our penalty rates are unreasonable.

“This is something they can’t take away. They’ve taken away holidays, allowances and yearly increases. To think they can do this is a disgrace.

“Nursing is a 24/7 job, 365 days of the year. Who is going to do it if we don’t?”

Ms Tonkin said they asked Ms Ley to show her support for the nurses.

“She needs to consider the impact it would have on health.”

Mr Holmes said any attack on penalty rates was a direct attack on nurses and midwives.

“Cuts to penalty rates could mean a cut in take home pay by up to 30 per cent for nurses and midwives working shifts,” he said.

“Up to 22 NSWNMA workplace branches across the state voted to endorse the coordinated stop work action and have notified Local Health District management of their intentions to enable alternative work arrangements.

“Our members take any action, such as walking off the job, extremely seriously given their commitment to putting patient safety first at all times.”

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