Thousands of NSW nurses defy strike ban and walk out of their jobs

Thousands of nurses have descended on Sydney’s CBD as an ongoing dispute with the NSW government over pay and conditions mounts.

The 24-hour strike by the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association (NSWNMA) is the second in as many months as members claim their demands are being ignored by the government.

After years of staff shortages caused by the pandemic, the union is demanding steady nurse-to-patient ratios in wards, an increase in maternity staff and better wages.

Nurses were holding signs that read “We can’t make it” and “stop lighting us” as they gathered before the Supreme Court this morning.

Nurses were holding signs that read ‘We’re ready’. ABC News: Jake Lapham
Aerial footage of people gathered outside a building
Thousands of nurses and supporters gathered outside the NSW Supreme Court.ABC news

NSW Health successfully received an order from the Industrial Relations Commission (IRC) to ban the strike, but the nurses defied that order.

Glenys Doughty said she wanted the government to listen.

“It breaks my heart to see what is happening right now,” she said.

“Every shift we have a shortage of nurses, which endangers patient safety.”

“We’ve worked so hard … we want ratios of three to one so we can ensure the safety of our patients.”

A huge line of nurses march to the NSW Supreme Court during the 24-hour strike.Jake Lapham

Nurse Abraham de Souza of St George Hospital said staff were wrongly asked to do “more for less”.

“We are understaffed, underpaid and overworked,” said Mr De Souza.

“We need nurses to care for patients and we are pushed to the limit.”

The protesters said they would continue the planned strikes “until the government listened”.

Similar demonstrations have been held in multiple locations around NSW.

A spokeswoman for NSW Health said nurses went on strike “contrary to” IRC orders.

She said there were plans to minimize patient delays due to the strike, but some disruption was “probable”.

“The NSW Government and NSW Health have held talks with the union and remain committed to reaching a resolution in the best interest of our patients and all of our health professionals,” the spokeswoman said in a statement.

“There are more nurses and midwives in NSW public hospitals than at any other time in history.

“Between 2012 and 2021, the nursing and midwifery workforce in NSW increased by 9,599 full-time equivalents, or 23 percent, to 51,794 full-time equivalents.”

She said the government had also invested in 5,000 nurses and midwives between 2019-2022 under a $2.8 billion boost for frontline staff.

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