Queensland health workers rally together to better their working and pay conditions.
Queensland health workers rally together to better their working and pay conditions. Renee Pilcher

Strike won't move them

UP north they picketed. But here in Gympie yesterday there was less fuss, with health practitioners (HPs) choosing to voice their discontent, with what they consider a paltry wage offer from the Queensland Government, by simply not going to work.

Last month the HPs held a public rally and work bans to show the government they meant business but still there was no better offer put forward.

The wage war has been going for six months and the government has so far been unwavering in its 7.5 per cent offer. Instead health officials decided to take out a full page advertisement in yesterday’s Courier Mail comparing wages for health professionals across the nation.

Those figures back up the government’s claim that 7.5 per cent over three years is a fair deal.

But thousands of health professionals in Queensland including social workers, pharmacists and radiographers walked off the job at midnight on Tuesday because they say the pay offer was below the rate of inflation.

Union officials want an offer of 12.5 per cent over three years.

Treasurer Andrew Fraser has said the state’s allied health workers were already among the best paid in Australia and urged unions to stay at the negotiating table.

“Typically, they’ve had pay rises of around $30,000 each in just the past couple of years. This new offer will keep them at the top of the tree on wages and conditions nationwide. While the Unions’ claim is for more, the Government also has a responsibility to the taxpayer,” he said.

QPSU general secretary Alex Scott told AAP the ads were another example of the State Government putting spin above substance.

He said the government had wasted thousands of dollars and lied in the ads which prompted other angry staff members to take part.

“(They’ve) further infuriated our members and that level of anger has resulted in an even higher level of participation in the strike action,” he told reporters.

Mr Scott said close to 80 per cent of staff had joined the strike and thousands of elective surgeries and other procedures were postponed.

But the government played down the strike’s effects.

“The government needs to start listening to calls from patients rather than listening to the spin of the department’s bureaucracy,” AAP reported Mr Scott as saying.

“It’s highly inflammatory and there’s a serious backlash from workers across the state when they see hard-earned, desperately needed funds being diverted away from patient care to further generate the spin machine of the department.”

There was a very high participation rate in the strike which ended midnight Wednesday.

Gympie Times


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