Health workers take action for wage rises, jobs
By Kim Linden
MELBOURNE — The Health Services Union of Australia (HSUA) imposed work bans on July 27 at several hospitals in Victoria for a 14% wage claim, job security and an end to the contracting out of jobs.
The action marks the beginning of a statewide industrial campaign, endorsed by HSUA members at a stop-work meeting on June 1. The hospitals hit with work bans included the Austin Repatriation Medical Centre (which struck for 24 hours), Box Hill, Monash Medical Centre, Alfred, St Vincent's, Peter MacCallum Cancer Institute, Royal Women's, Fairfield, Cabrini, Epworth Private and Geelong.
An HSUA spokesperson told Green Left Weekly that members voted for either a 24-hour stoppage or other work bans in support of: a 14% pay rise for all HSUA members for past, present and future productivity improvements, with no trade-offs (job losses); a guarantee on job security; an end to employment on temporary contracts; permanent positions; and an end to contracting out.
The strike at the Austin Repatriation Medical Centre took place at a time of major shake-up for the centre. Two campuses, the existing Austin Hospital and the Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital, are to be merged as part of the government's plans for a northern hospital network. This will result in major job losses and bed closures. The HSUA says the morale of staff at the Austin is at an all-time low.
HSUA members are preparing for further industrial action. A spokesperson said that if the government failed to deliver on all of the union's demands, more industrial action would follow.
A rally and statewide stoppage have been planned for August 2 at Trades Hall Council for HSUA members employed in health work outside of public or private hospitals.