Thousands of public hospital workers will strike across NSW as they fight for increased security in their workplaces, with the union warning it’s just the beginning of planned action.
More than 20,000 workers will walk off the job on Thursday over workplace safety concerns following a vote by Health Services Union delegates in July.
The union said the rolling four-hour strike will go ahead despite the Department of Health on Wednesday night saying an agreement had been reached at the Industrial Relations Commission to avert the action.
HSU NSW secretary Gerard Hayes said the department agreed to a trial of 15 extra security staff at Gosford and Wyong Hospital.
While acknowledging it was a step in the right direction, he said members weren’t prepared to sit back as dozens of public hospital workers were assaulted at work every month.
“We are going to continue this action – it’s a starting point,” he said on Thursday at a rally outside the NSW Ministry of Health offices in Sydney.
He called on the NSW government to put forward at least $ 50 million for a proactive security team at hospitals, including staff trained in mental health, drug and alcohol abuse.
“How do you get PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) because you go to a hospital to work? That’s what’s happening,” Mr Hayes said.
The union said strikes will take place at several hospitals across the state at different times – including the Royal Prince Alfred, Royal North Shore, Westmead Children’s, Wollongong, Tamworth, Wagga and Dubbo.
Mr Hayes said patients won’t be at risk during Thursday’s strike action but admits there could be some delays for “routine matters”.
“We are not about harming patients with this action we’re about highlighting a community issue,” he said.
Paramedics say patients won’t be charged for treatment or transport during the four-hour strike.
The action will involve paramedics, security staffers, allied health professionals as well as administration and catering workers.
Doctors and nurses won’t strike but they support Thursday’s action, Mr Hayes said.
NSW opposition health spokesman Ryan Park said Labor stands with hospital workers and called on the Berejiklian government to listen to their concerns.
“Men and women deserve to be able to go to work and come home without being assaulted,” Mr Park said at the rally.
Australian Associated Press