'Intense negotiations' are underway as thousands of nurses across the country threaten to strike over pay conditions

Sky News, 5 July 2023

Thousands of nurses across the country are threatening to walk off the job, including in New South Wales as the state government scrambles to reach an agreement over better pay.

Health workers across the country are threatening to strike unless wages meet demand. 
In New South Wales, health workers are threatening to strike unless the state government agrees to increase the pay offer to public servants.

A one-year four per cent pay rise, plus 0.5 per cent superannuation has been offered by Labor to public sector unions.

However, members of the Health Services Union are calling for super to be increased by six-and-a-half per cent.

The union has given the Minns government until Friday to agree to the deal, before promising to begin industrial action on Monday if the changes are not made. 

Speaking at an annual conference on Tuesday, HSU NSW Secretary Gerard Hayes called on the state government, who the union fought to be elected, to confirm its position on whether it will accept the pay increase. 

“This government needs to get their s**t together pretty darn quickly because if they don’t, we’re coming for them and the next election is not too far away,” Mr Hayes warned. 

“This is a starting point, this is not the end game. I have shown you how the words of some mean nothing but the force of this union means a lot.

"We don’t have asks of politicians, we have requirements.”

Speaking to Sky News Australia on Wednesday, NSW Acting Premier Prue Car said the union is "advocating for its members as we expect them to do" and the government is "working through those issues". 

"We are determined to get rid of the wages cap that the previous government had in place for more than a decade, and to make sure we value essential frontline workers, like those amazing HSU members by giving them a pay rise," she said. 

"What they've been offered is the biggest pay rise that they've been offered in a decade."

However, when asked if she will look to increase what the government has already offered, Ms Car declared "our government is working really closely with the union on negotiating through that".

"We hope to be able to land in a position where we come to an agreed outcome...(the government) is in intense negotiations at the moment," she said.

Meanwhile, nurses in Tasmania are also threatening to commence industrial action over better pay. 

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation Tasmanian branch secretary Emily Shepherd said nurses and midwives will strike if the government does not present a formal offer by Friday. 

"We have written to the Government asking for a formal offer in writing, following over 6 months of negotiations for a replacement Nurses and Midwives (Tasmanian State Service) Agreement, by this Friday 7 July," Ms Shepherd told Skynews.com.au.

"ANMF have indicated that we will then meet with members to formalise their requests to commence industrial action.

"Preliminary advice from members is that members want to undertake strike action until such time as the Government table an offer the appropriately recognises the existing workforce and will enable recruitment."

It comes after AMA Tasmania called on the government to increase wages so the island state could attract and retain young health care workers, who are currently seeking better opportunities on the mainland.

However on Wednesday, AMA Tasmania announced doctors in public hospitals had finally reached an agreement with the state government following "lengthy negotiations". 

Lead negotiator Dr Michael Lumsden-Steel welcomed the "Tasmanian Governments Salaried Medical Practitioners EBA" offer to recruit and retain more workers. 

"To say that we are relieved is an understatement; to have achieved such a sensible, comprehensive, and sustainable investment into the SMP workforce means we can now recruit and retain competitively with other states," Dr Lumsden-Steel said in a statement on Wednesday. 

“One of the critical features of these negotiations has been ensuring we are in the best possible position to attract and retain our intern and doctor-in-training workforce – the senior specialist and general practitioners’ workforce of our future, who have been alarmingly en masse moving to other states."

Health workers across the country have threatened industrial action in their respective states in recent months, with growing concerns the industry is being left behind. 

On Tuesday, hundreds of South Australian allied health workers walked off the job calling for better pay and conditions.

The Health Services Union in South Australia claimed a lack of fair pay has caused workers to abandon the public system.