'It is not a labour government'


BRISBANE — Green Left Weekly's ROBYN MARSHALL spoke to several nurses at the Royal Brisbane Hospital on July 5 about the dispute. “I know that nurses from RBH, from the Royal Women's Hospital and other workplaces have lots of determination to continue to fight for appropriate remuneration”, a nurse said.

“This is our fifth enterprise agreement and it's been the same struggle no matter whether we have had to deal with the National Party or the Labor Party”, she continued.

Another nurse added that there is no support for a secret ballot. “The majority of us pay union fees for the union representatives to forward our concerns. We have requested that they pursue our pay claim. The government is just demonstrating a lack of respect for our professional body.

“I don't know if this is a labour government. Everybody knows that everyone, all families, are struggling to make ends meet, in particular nurses. The main issue is the work load and our poor pay.

“And the hospital is always over budget so now the administrators have the excuse 'the nurses have closed down beds'. There is no commitment to a health service for everyone. In this complex we used to have 21 theatres operating two years ago. Now there are only 15 theatres.”

Labor health minister Wendy Edmond's comment that nurses are over-educated, and won't touch “chunder buckets” still rankles many nurses. “It is an absolutely ridiculous thing to say. Would she say that about doctors, or engineers? It's only because we are women and one of the largest professional groups of women.”

From Green Left Weekly, July 10, 2002.
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