On the Picket Line

Sydney hospital walkout protests inadequate hospital staffing

By Bob Aiken
December 14, 2020

SYDNEY — Over 100 nurses and midwives walked off the job at Blacktown Hospital in western Sydney Nov. 19 to protest longstanding understaffing. Staff shortages at the public hospital have been an issue there for years as management aims to limit spending. Those working in the maternity department led the latest round of protests.

Births at the hospital have increased by 52.3% since 2015, while staffing levels have increased by only 11.5%. Nurses say this is unsafe for both patients and workers, with midwives being scheduled to work both day and night shifts for up to 64 hours a week, well over the maximum allowed.

The 24-hour protest strike was joined by nurses from other departments in the hospital that are also understaffed. The government Industrial Relations Commission ordered the workers to return to work at 10:30 p.m. that night.