Concord Hospital staff walk out over parking row

Daily Telegraph, 17 January 2024

More than 300 healthcare workers at a hospital in Sydney’s Inner West will walk off the job in a row with the NSW government.

More than 300 Concord Hospital staff will walk off the job for an hour on Wednesday as frustrations mount after Premier Chris Minns scrapped free parking for healthcare workers.

Dozens of the hospital’s psychologists, scientists, theatre technicians, cleaners and security will stop work from 1pm, to protest the reintroduction of parking permits of $27.20 per week.

Health Services Union boss Gerard Hayes said the move would see frontline workers forking out more than $2600 in parking fees per year.

“At a time when cost of living pressures are hitting hard, charging staff $2600 to simply turn up at work is outrageous and morally bankrupt,” he said.

“Concord Hospital staff, like health workers around the nation, worked tirelessly to keep the community safe during the Covid-19 pandemic. Plunging them into financial distress by slapping them with extortionate parking fees is no way to say thanks.

“Hospital executives need to take a hard look in the mirror, stop treating staff as cash cows and reconsider these excessive rates.”

Staff parking has been free at hospitals around the state since the pandemic but from February healthcare workers at 16 metro hospitals will be required to pay for parking again.

Mr Hayes argued that the new fees at Concord Hospital have more than doubled from the pre-Covid fees arguing parking at Concord hospital used to be only $12 a week for workers with permits.

While the decision to bring back fees was made by the NSW government is the individual hospitals which set the fee amounts. The HSU is calling for Concord Hospital management to either make parking free or bring fees down to pre-Covid prices.

Premier Minns said on Wednesday the money being collected from parking fees was being guided towards improving pay and conditions for essential workers.

“It was always meant to be a Covid measure and we have to take into consideration family and patients in major public hospitals as well as those entering into these major facilities,” he said.

“I appreciate it’s not perfect and there’ll be people who are not happy with the government’s decision but there’s reasons why we had to make that tough call.”