Thousands of nurses rallying outside Australia’s most populous state, New South Wales, vowed to “come back bigger and angrier each time we are ignored” during the first statewide nurses strike in a decade on Tuesday.
Despite a ruling on Monday that the strike should not go ahead, the healthcare professionals turned out in large numbers demanding ratios of one nurse to every four patients on every shift and a pay increase above Australia’s prescribed public sector offer of 2.5%.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the strikes were “unfortunate” and “disappointing,” especially because they came in defiance of the last-minute state order that asked nurses to call off their protest over risks to public health.
Thousands of nurses and midwives also protested at the parliament building in Sydney in solidarity.
An emergency department nurse from Wollongong said he was already burnt out and considering changing careers.
“We were thrown in the deep end, and we’re totally burnt out,” he said. “We’re supposed to be working in one of the better healthcare systems in the world, but at the moment, it feels pretty piss-poor.”
The General-Secretary of NSW Nurses and Midwives Association (NSWNMA) Brett Holmes accused the premier, Dominic Perrottet, of being out of touch “with the real world” and the reality of working through the Omicron wave in hospitals.
Australia, which is set to open borders to vaccinated international travelers from February 21 after nearly two years, on Tuesday reported just over 24,900 cases in the past 24 hours.
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