WA: Health workers strike for better pay

In mid October over 500 people marched to the Parliament of Western Australia to protest the attempted privatisation of healthcare. The protest coincided with a strike of 5000 healthcare workers who had stopped work demanding better wages and conditions.

Under the plans proposed by Liberal Premier Colin Barnett every government hospital is threatened with privatisation. At the same time workers need at least a $50 per week increase in order to cover the basic costs of living.

The composition of the strike was varied including cleaners, orderlies, patient care assistants, technicians and store workers. The issues of workers rights and privatisation are closely linked. As we have seen with other services, privatisation only means less jobs, less service and increased costs for the consumer.

In South Australia Labor Premier Mike Rann is attempting to slash jobs and cut the conditions of public sector workers. The state government is proposing to amend the Award under Gillard’s Fair Work Act to replace the 17.5% holiday leave loading with two days of annual leave.

This cut was announced along with the controversial budget which includes more than 3700 government job cuts. The Public Services Association has said that they will organise protests against the cuts but what is really required is a campaign of industrial action.

The state government is already losing support with the Liquor Hospitality and Miscellaneous Union warning that they will withdraw support from Labor’s election campaign in 2014 if the Premier and Treasurer are not replaced.