In the first contested election in the New South Wales Nurses and Midwives Association (NSWNMA) since 2003, John-Paul Marx, who ran on “A Smarter Union” ticket, received 38.7% of the vote.
A Smarter Union ran a four-month campaign with a focus on prioritising more immediate support for members. It also called for the protection of nursing and midwifery positions in the healthcare system and the union.
It promoted setting up a solidarity fund to provide financial support to members during prolonged industrial action.
Marx contested the assistant general secretary position and Amit Gupta and They-An Le ran for council positions.
Shaye Candish retained the general secretary position and Michael Whaites the assistant general secretary position.
Marx said on November 27 that his team was “very pleased” with the outcome. “To get more than 1/3 of the members to vote for us is fantastic, given the circumstances.”
A Smarter Union had argued that the “election of officers and councillors must not be shadowed by fear-mongering or exclusively available to a group of well-funded and/or chosen people”.
A Smarter Union criticised the NSWNMA leadership for exclusively inviting Labor leader Chris Minns and shadow health minister Ryan Park to address delegates on November 15. “While Labor’s recent ‘safe staffing’ announcement is a positive step, unfortunately, it does not cover Community Health, Operating Theatres, Mental Health or Paediatrics,” it said.
It said claims that Labor supports nurse-to-patient ratios are inaccurate because it no longer supports safe ratios being made law. Labor’s new policy means the onus will fall on workers to fight for safe ratios in their awards. “NSW Labor is giving us vague promises, and the NSWNMA leadership is selling us fake wins,” A Smarter Union said.
The NSWNMA says it supports a campaign for better ratios, but also supports Labor's "safe staffing" commitment.
Marx said he was pleased the ticket brought some competition to the union. “Together, we will continue our collective fight for better pay and conditions for NSWNMA members.” Congratulatory messages on his social media site warned the leadership not to take its re-election for granted.