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15 Feb, 2022 16:45

Nurses walk out to protest low pay, pandemic workload (VIDEOS)

Nurses went on strike in Sydney and elsewhere across New South Wales, defying a stay-at-work order from authorities
Nurses walk out to protest low pay, pandemic workload (VIDEOS)

Thousands of nurses in Sydney, Australia, and elsewhere across the state of New South Wales demonstrated on Tuesday to protest low pay and harsh working conditions during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The health workers went on strike despite the Industrial Relations Commission having earlier told them to call off their planned action and avoid disruptions to services. 

The Nurses and Midwives’ Association said the intervention from the authorities came late, as many of its members had already voted for the walk-out. The union insisted they needed to “stand tall” and show their frustrations with the situation facing healthcare workers.

Only skeleton staff remained on duty at NSW hospitals on the day of the protests, so that the most seriously ill patients would still receive the necessary medical care.

The protesters are demanding a ratio of one nurse to four patients on every shift, as well as pay increases above the government’s prescribed public-sector offer of 2.5%. 

In Sydney, the health workers marched through the central business district with signs reading “Ratios save lives” and “More nurses – less hearses,” among others. One was photographed sporting a full body protective suit and a face shield. The sign he held read: “I wear this for 12 hours. Could you?”

“We're drowning...we've been drowning for a long time and Covid has really just pressed that point home that this health system is just not working,” one of the protesting midwives told ABC News.

Smaller marches, in which dozens of nurses took part, were also reportedly held in other parts of the state.