Australian health workers protest lack of Covid-19 resources

Sydney, Australia, Feb 15 (EFE).- Thousands of health workers from more than 150 hospitals and public centers in New South Wales, Australia’s most populated state, demonstrated Tuesday to protest the lack of resources during the Covid-19 pandemic and demand a wage increase.

Crowds of nurses and other workers, many dressed in surgical scrubs, marched through central Sydney to the regional parliament holding signs that read “Stop telling us to suck it up,” “Patients over profit” or “A safe workforce saves lives.”

“The government’s ‘let it go’ policy has not only caused senseless loss of life due to Covid-19, but lives have also been lost due to not having enough staff and reaching patients on time,” said protester O’Bray Smith, of the Association of Nurses and Midwives of New South Wales.

The strike, the first in a decade and which included another 30 marches in various places in the rest of the territory of New South Wales, was carried out despite the Industrial Relations Commission discouraging the move Monday.

Workers said they were dissatisfied with the 2.5 percent wage increase, after a three-year wage freeze, as well as the difficulties they face in accessing workers’ compensation when they contract Covid-19.

They also complained about the stress faced during the pandemic and demanded the implementation of a patients to nurses ratio, as the regional government had refused for considering them ineffective.

New South Wales Health Minister Brad Hazzard, who met with unions in a bid to abort the strike, called the protest “unfortunate” in an interview with broadcaster 2GB, insisting that the regional government has attempted to address their main grievances.

During the movement, only a small group of nurses provided basic services to patients in public hospitals amid a health crisis due to the emergence of the omicron variant, which has particularly affected Sydney.

New South Wales, confined for about three months in the second half of 2021 due to an outbreak with the delta variant, was the first Australian region to open its international borders in November, prompting the entry of the omicron variant.

In Australia, more than 10 percent of the population of 25 million inhabitants, most of them in New South Wales and the neighboring state of Victoria, have contracted Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic, a figure that includes more than 4,600 deaths. EFE


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