Strength in numbers

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The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association is a branch of the federal nursing and midwifery union, which has now become one of the largest unions in Australia.

The Australian Nursing & Midwifery Federation (ANMF) has grown to almost 233,000 members, cementing its place as one of the largest and most influential unions in the country.

The milestone was marked with a cake when state and territory secretaries met in Melbourne in March.

ANMF Federal Secretary Lee Thomas prepares to cut the cake in celebration with the ANMF Executive – from left: Brett Holmes of NSW, Trish Fowler Western Australia, (front) Jenny Miragaya ACT, Sally-Anne Jones ANMF Vice-President, Lee Thomas, Coral Levett ANMF President, (back) Beth Mohle Queensland, (front) Lisa Fitzpatrick Victoria and Shirel Romoa Northern Territory.

ANMF Federal Secretary Lee Thomas said almost 9000 new members joined the union last year. “I commend every nurse, midwife, personal care assistant and student for creating the union we are today. There is strength in unity and in numbers and that strength is needed now, more than ever.”

Ms Thomas said the federal government had set a clear agenda to attack unions and workers’ entitlements such as penalty rates.

The attack on unions was also signalling a return to WorkChoices through the Productivity Commission’s review of the Fair Work Act, Ms Thomas said. “Far from being dead, buried and cremated, as Tony Abbott said, it seems WorkChoices is being resurrected under the cover of the Productivity Commission.”

Ms Thomas said the view by the federal government that penalty rates were bad for business was a slap in the face for Australia’s nursing and midwifery workforce. “Australia is already experiencing a nursing crisis, with a shortage of 109,000 nurses by 2025. How can we expect to retain and recruit new nurses and midwives if the government now wants to take away their penalty rates and shift loadings?”

Ultimately the health care delivered to everyday Australians will suffer as a consequence of a dwindling nursing and midwifery workforce, said Ms Thomas. “Penalty rates and other allowances are critical issues for our members and together, we will fight to save them.”

Thank you to the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Journal for this story and article.

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