Protest walks fine line
GYMPIE’S hospital health practitioners say they are walking a fine line making sure they don’t put patients’ lives at risk while undertaking protected union action in their workplaces.
Jobs like answering phones and forwarding data on to the national health body has ceased as health workers protest against their treatment by Queensland Health over wage negotiations.
They marched out in force at yesterday’s union rally held outside the Gympie Hospital to stand up against wage cuts and for improved health services and health resources for their community.
QPSU rally organiser Ron Fossen said the union was fighting a pay rise offer of 2.5 per cent to health workers because it was not acceptable with inflation at 3.1 per cent.
“That is going backwards,” he said. “Getting the message through to the Queensland Government that it should value its health practitioners is a hopeless task because nobody’s listening.”
The CPSU went into negotiations for the enterprise bargaining agreement in July, asking for 4.5 per cent increase for health practitioners, followed by another 4 per cent in 2011 and another 4 in 2012.
Three months later there has been no agreement and the Queensland Government has said health practitioners will receive no back-pay until the month an agreement is made.
“That is blackmail. The Government is short-changing these valuable people. Especially since politicians received a 3.1 per cent pay increase in January this year and gave themselves a 2.5 per cent increase on Friday, back paid to August,” Mr Fossen said.
“Since the beginning of this year, the government has given themselves a 5.6 per cent pay rise with no loss of conditions.
“A 2.5 per cent increase for a front bencher would be well over $100 each week compared to a health practitioner on pay level three it would be $25. And so the disparity grows.”
Mr Fossen said the community risked losing their health practitioners to other health jurisdictions if the Queensland Government didn’t take them seriously.
“We are asking for Paul Lucas to intervene with Queensland Health. Health Practitioners are needed now more than ever — in Queensland of course we have an aging population and our health practitioners are an invaluable resource.
It’s been identified that as primary health care workers they can save the government a great deal of money because they do a lot of preventative work.”
Motions passed were:
- Queensland health practitioners requested Minister Paul Lucas do his job.
- They demanded he stand up for the health system and invest in keeping it strong.
- They asked Member for Gympie David Gibson to stand up for the Gympie hospital.