The health and aged care system functions because of the hard work of many health workers. The HSU covers workers in food services, cleaning, security, maintenance, clerical and administration, medical records, laboratories, allied health and professional staff, radiography, nuclear medicine, pharmacy, operating theatres, social work, psychology, dietetics, occupational therapy, interpreting, dentistry, physiotherapy, finance, IT and junior medical officers.
The HSU also covers most of the staff in aged care, private hospitals and disabilities, except for registered nurses.
It is more than a century since workers banded together to form what is now the HSU. These days, threats of losing your job, bullying in the workplace, excessive workloads, unsafe work practices, budget cuts and unreasonable changes to rosters can all threaten your wellbeing at work.
While the union has had a long and vibrant history, in 2011 major allegations of fraud and criminal activity were made against certain individuals who were leading the union at that time. An independent investigation was established, led by Ian Temby QC and Dennis Robertson. The allegations have also been investigated by the NSW Police. These allegations involved the misuse of members’ money, conflicts of interest with suppliers and the misuse of credit cards.
The allegations were so serious and the damage being done to the union so great, that legal action was taken to remove the leadership at that time. This resulted in the Federal Court putting an administrator in charge of the union for a limited period of time, demerging the NSW and Victorian branches of the union, stabilising it and getting it back up and running as a viable organisation.
New elections were held and with a program of reform built around openness and transparency, and reinvigorating the HSU – Gerard Hayes was elected Secretary, Mark Sterrey was elected as President, and Andrew Lillicrap as Assistant Secretary/Treasurer.
A new HSU Council and Union Committee of Management were also elected. Together, they have been getting the union back on its feet, delivering on the reform agenda and turning the HSU into a strong, fighting union once more.