Nurses at a Sydney conference have heckled NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner and handed her a submission opposing the government’s move to overhaul workers compensation laws. As well as being told the changes to compensation for injured workers were unfair, Ms Skinner was jeered at while commenting on wages at the NSW Nurses Association (NSWNA) annual conference.
Nurses jeer at NSW health minister
Ms Skinner said nurses would be able to secure wage increases above the minimum set by the state government but only if they meet cost-saving targets.
She said NSW nurses were among the most highly paid in Australia and salary increases would be in line with government policy.
She told their conference in Sydney on Thursday that nurses and midwives had received a 2.5 per cent pay increase on July 1 this year, a 3 per cent rise in 2011 and a 3.9 per cent rise in 2010.
But she said nurses could secure pay rises above the minimum if they met cost-saving measures set by health care employers.
“The policy also provides for increases in wages or other conditions of employment by more than 2.5 per cent where sufficient employer-related cost savings have been achieved to meet increased costs,” she said, sparking an angry reaction from the audience.
“That’s always (been) a policy, it was never implemented previously.”
In handing Ms Skinner the submission, NSWNA General Secretary Brett Holmes called the changes “unfair and unjust” and said they should not be imposed on the union’s members.
The NSW government claims work cover premiums will skyrocket if a $4.1 billion deficit isn’t reined in, while unions fear reforms will lead to slashed benefits for injured workers.
Ms Skinner said she would consider the submission.