The NSW Nurses Association launched a public campaign on February 18 aimed at improving work conditions to retain experienced nurses and entice new nurses into the profession in NSW. The campaign is titled: "Fair conditions. Fair pay. Nurses stay: it's that simple."
The award for public-health system nurses is negotiated and renewed every four years; the current agreement expires on June 30, 2008.
The NSW Labor government has offered a 2.5% wage rise to all public-sector employees — less than the rate of inflation. Brett Holmes, general secretary of the NSW Nurses Association, responded on February 18 that "Any attempt by the state government to impose a virtual pay cut across the public sector … is dangerously simplistic in terms of the health system. The public health system is a vital part of our society. Fair and decent wages and conditions for nurses are necessary if it is to function at the high standard the people of NSW are entitled to."
The Nurses Association has rejected the government's wage policy and has served a log of claims on NSW Health. Some of the main features of the claim are:
•a 5% per year pay rise for all public hospital and community health nurses and midwives, with the first rise taking effect in July 2008;
•a new classification at higher pay for experienced enrolled nurses;
•an increase in the penalty loading for night work from 15% to 25%;
•225 extra clinical nurse educators, to provide more support for junior staff and new graduates; and
•making it easier for casual and temporary employees to convert to permanent positions.