NSW paramedics, patient transport workers to strike for 24 hours from Thursday

News.com.au, 16 May 2023

A state’s paramedics will refuse all patient discharges from Thursday morning as healthcare workers rally for faster progress on wage negotiations.

Paramedic and patient transfer workers will launch a 24-hour strike from 6am on Thursday, as healthcare workers demand faster action on the NSW government’s promise to scrap the wages cap.
The unprecedented industrial action will involve both urgent (red) and non-urgent (green) ambulance fleets.

During this time patient transport officers and paramedics will refuse to transfer discharged patients from hospitals to homes and residential or aged care facilities.

Patients under end of life and dialysis care will not be affected.

The industrial action is over the government’s keystone election promise to scrap the public sector wages cap, in favour of negotiations with public sector unions and worker representatives.

However, Health Services Union NSW secretary Gerard Hayes says workers had expected quicker action and says discussions had not been substantive.

“The NSW government had the option to remove the wages cap by changing the ministerial regulation the day after the election; it chose not to,” he said.

“And every day since we have wondered when we will see action.”

Just earlier this month, hospital workers at Tweed, Lismore Base and Coffs Harbour Hospitals also stopped work for an hour due to stalled wage negotiations.

“We take this action reluctantly but decisively. It has been designed to minimise impact on people in especially vulnerable situations,” said Mr Hayes.

“Our offer to work with the government remains live.”

The influential union body has also called for large ranging reforms and “professionalised pay” rises, which were especially important during a cost of living crisis.

“We are yet to see meaningful progress on either of these fronts,” said Mr Hayes.

“The weekly rent for a typical Sydney home has climbed 25 per cent in the last year. Mortgage interest rates have skyrocketed,” he said.

“Health care workers did not create this crisis but we are being asked to pay the price.”

NSW Premier Chris Minns said his government was in the “process of developing an offer” to representatives of NSW public sector workers, confirming there were discussions between government officials and union leaders.

Although he wasn’t able to offer when workers could see a pay increase, Mr Minns maintained he was “confident” of “a landing”.

“We think that progress is appropriate, considering when the awards expire and what we need to achieve,” he said.

“Obviously, I’d like there to be an agreement yesterday or today, but that’s not possible. These are really complicated industrial instruments and we want to make sure we get it right.”