'They can earn more at Bunnings': Hunter hospital workers demand pay rise

  • Published April 7, 2022

Newcastle Herald, 7 April 2022

Hospital workers across the Hunter will walk off the job today in a state-wide strike to demand better pay.

Ambulance, cleaning, allied health, admin, security, catering and ward staff will strike at John Hunter Hospital from 10am to 12pm today, calling for a pay increase.

Under the state's wages cap public sector pay increases can not legally exceed 2.5 per cent, but the Health Services Union said this is not enough with inflation running at 3.5 per cent.

HSU assistant secretary Lynne Russell said some staff are left with no choice but to leave their roles as their wages fail to keep up with the current inflation rate.

"The staffing situation is bad in John Hunter Hospital and part of the problem is they can't attract or retain staff because the wages and conditions are not attractive," she said.

"They can go and earn more at Bunnings than they can working in health looking after our sick people so why would they stay?"

HSU secretary Gerard Hayes said health workers across the state are fed up with the current situation and are demanding a pay rise.

"Health and hospital workers are sick of mealy-mouthed rhetoric. We don't need another politician thanking us for being heroes of the pandemic, we need a pay rise," he said.

"They were exposed to COVID without a vaccine or appropriate protective equipment for months. Then they endured exhaustion and anxiety.

"They have been rewarded with surging prices and a collapse in real wages.