Melbourne Hospital workers strike
By Kim Linden
MELBOURNE — Around 300 health workers struck here on July 19 in protest against the government's proposals to slash jobs and health services at the newly amalgamated Austin and Repatriation Medical Centre in the north-eastern suburbs.
Members of the Health Services Union of Australia (HSUA), the Australian Nursing Federation and the Australian Medical Services marched from the Heidelberg campus to the Austin administration and then rallied outside the offices of the state member for Ivanhoe, Vin Heffernan chanting "What do we want? An open hospital. When do we want it? Forever!"
Protesters demanded that Heffernan speak to concerned health workers at both the Austin and Heidelberg campuses. Heffernan failed to show.
HSUA official Jeff Jackson told the rally that the government could cut 400-600 jobs at the hospital and that the government canvassed the possibility of closing the Heidelberg campus in a plan entitled "Hospital of the Future".
Jackson said the rally marked the beginning of an industrial campaign to save jobs and hospital services. The business plan includes cost-cutting through privatisation of hospital services.
HSUA members will strike for 24 hours on July 27 to force the Industrial Relations Commission to take up the issue of a 14% wage increase. Nurses are also still awaiting an 8% increase.