Australian paramedics strike over resources, wages amid pandemic
Sydney, Australia, Feb 17 (EFE).- Paramedics across Australia’s most populated state went on strike on Thursday to protest a lack of resources – especially during the Covid-19 pandemic – and demand wage increases.
New South Wales (NSW) Ambulance said that the 24-hour paramedics’ protest could cause disruptions to services.
“Patient safety is always our priority and NSW Ambulance has operational plans to minimize disruption to the community during any such actions,” a spokesperson told public broadcaster ABC.
The Australian Paramedics Association of New South Wales, which is also demanding 1,500 additional paramedics and “massive investment” in the sector, said in a statement that the paramedics will not leave their allocated station to cover roster gaps elsewhere.
“For two years we’ve been doing the impossible and we’ve been doing it with grit and fortitude to show up for our communities, but something has to give,” president of the Australian Paramedics Association (NSW), Chris Kastelan, said, referring to the difficult working conditions, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The paramedics’ protest comes after thousands of NSW public sector healthcare workers also demonstrated on Tuesday to protest a lack of resources during the Covid-19 pandemic and demand a pay hike.
NSW has been facing a health crisis since the end of last year due to Covid-19, which has particularly hit Sydney and caused staff shortages with an increasing number of workers taking sick leave, despite 95 percent of the target population being fully vaccinated and 51 percent having had a booster shot.
The state, which was placed under lockdown for about three months in the second half of 2021 due to an outbreak linked to the Delta variant, was the first Australian region to open its international borders in November, prompting the entry of the highly transmissible Omicron variant.
More than 10 percent of Australia’s 25 million inhabitants, most of them in NSW and the neighboring state of Victoria, have contracted Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic. More than 4,700 have died due to the illness. EFE